There once was a hideous horrible ogre named Grýla who lived in Iceland. Her home was in a cave far up in the mountains, where she lived with her troll-husband and her hundreds of troll-children. She was very ugly, with many long tails and feet like a cow. She had ten ears on either side of her head and could hear the sounds of children's complaints from miles away. She kept track of children who didn't do their chores, were mean to other people, or behaved badly. She would to sneak down to the villages and steal away those kids. Then, she fattened them up to turn them into bad kids stew!
Now, in Iceland, during the summertime, the sun shines until almost until midnight and it's morning again very early. But in the wintertime, it gets dark in the late afternoon and the sun doesn't come up until almost noon! So, Grýla waited until winter to collect the bad children - keeping a list of them the rest of the year. She often traveled with her giant mean cat, a scary wicked beast. Jólakötturinn - the Christmas Cat - waited until Christmas Day to eat children who didn't get clothes for Christmas!
Of Grýla's many troll-children, there were thirteen that especially liked the villager's Christmas-time celebrations. They liked Christmas so much that they became known as Jólasveinar - The Yule Lads. They were generally troublesome because they all liked to steal treats and play pranks. Every year, they come down from the mountain, one by one, starting on December 12th. Another Yule Lad arrives each day, through Christmas Eve. Then, starting Christmas Day, they go home, one by one, in the order they arrived.
They are all different in their mischief, so beware of their tricks! They may steal the milk, or empty the cookie jar, even swipe your sparkliest treasures. They can't help it - they're trolls after all. Over the years, they've tried to be more like Santa - if you leave your shoes out by the window, each one will leave a gift on the day they arrive, but only if you're good. Bad children usually get a rotten potato!
The Icelandic Yule Lads
Icelandic Name Pronounced [stek' ya stir]
Icelandic Name Pronounced [Thur' a slay ker]
Icelandic Name Pronounced [Her' tha sket ler]
Icelandic Name Pronounced [glugga' guy year]
Icelandic Name Pronounced [gill' ya gur]
Icelandic Name Pronounced [Pot' a sky fill]
Icelandic Name Pronounced [skyr' ga mur]
Icelandic Name Pronounced [gotta' thever]
Icelandic Name Pronounced [Stew' fer]
Icelandic Name Pronounced [Ask' a slay ker]
Icelandic Name Pronounced [buke' naw cry gear]
Icelandic Name Pronounced [ket' croaker]
Icelandic Name Pronounced [keta' sneaker]