Iceland’s Christmas Yule Lads are a staple in Iceland’s rich historic folklore. It’s believed that during each of the 13 nights leading up to Christmas, a Yule Lad comes down from the mountains to bring children gifts or candy – and sometimes even to play pranks. Each Yule Lad has unique characteristics, like the Sausage-Swiper who is known to hide in the rafters and steal sausages or Door-Slammer who stomps around and slams doors, keeping everyone awake.
Before they go to sleep, kids take one of their best shoes and leave near an open window. Come morning the shoe will contain a small gift from the Yule Lad that arrived on that night. However, this only works if the child has been good – if he or she has been bad, the shoe will contain only one lonely potato.
Want to learn the whole story of the Yule Lads? Enjoy the famed Icelandic story, “Christmas is Coming,” read by Icelandic actress Erla Skúladóttir in the Árbær Open Air Museum in Reykjavik here!
In addition to the Yule Lads, Iceland has many other unique Christmas traditions; learn about them all here. And celebrate Icelandic winter and holiday traditions with our #INRespects Tradition campaign! One lucky contest winner will win a grand prize; enter here.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the Yule Lads arriving on the following dates:
- December 12 – Sheep-Cote Clod
- December 13 – Gully Gawk
- December 14 – Stubby
- December 15 – Spoon-Licker
- December 16 – Pot-Scraper
- December 17 – Bowl-Licker
- December 18 – Door-Slammer
- December 19 – Skyr-Gobbler
- December 20 – Sausage-Swiper
- December 21 – Window-Peeper
- December 22 – Doorway-Sniffer
- December 23 – Meat-Hook
- December 24 – Candle-Stealer
Which Yule Lad are you most like? Take the quiz below to find out and let us know in the comments!