An Icelandic Christmas

Becca does something different this week and interviews a friend about growing up in Iceland in the 1960s and 1970s and what that meant around Christmas time. Iceland is home to notoriously unique and peculiar legends around lads, witches, and a mischievous cat. 


Gryla comes in a few forms and depictions, either animalistic or a giant witch. But she always has a sack for collecting naughty children.

Yule Lads

  • Sheep-Cote Clod: He tries to suckle yews in farmer’s sheep sheds
  • Gully Gawk: He steals foam from buckets of cow milk
  • Stubby: He’s short and steals food from frying pans
  • Spoon Licker: He licks spoons
  • Pot Scraper, aka Pot Licker: He steals unwashed pots and licks them clean 
  • Bowl Licker: He steals bowls of food from under the bed (back in the old days, Icelanders used to sometimes store bowls of food there—convenient for midnight snacking?)
  • Door Slammer: He stomps around and slams doors, keeping everyone awake 
  • Skyr Gobbler: He eats up all the Icelandic yogurt (skyr)
  • Sausage Swiper: He loves stolen sausages 
  • Window Peeper: He likes to creep outside windows and sometimes steal the stuff he sees inside
  • Door Sniffer: He has a huge nose and an insatiable appetite for stolen baked goods
  • Meat Hook: He snatches up any meat left out, especially smoked lamb 
  • Candle Beggar: He steals candles, which used to be sought-after items in Iceland

The Yule Cat or “Jólakötturinn”

The Yule Cat eats people if they don’t have new clothes for Christmas, especially children.

Additional Resources



Icelandic Things We Love







Thor Replica

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