Sunday, 12 December 2010

Pagan Report: Jólasveinar (or Yuletide Lads)

Today in Iceland saw the arrival of the first Jólasveinar of the Icelandic Advent.

The Icelandic Jólasveinar (Yule Lads) are descended from trolls, and were originally bogeymen used to scare children. They've mellowed in the last century, and sometimes don red suits.

Their names are;

Stekkjastaur - Enclosure Post
Giljagaur - Crevice Imp
Stúfur - Itty Bitty
Þvörusleikir - Pot Scraper Licker
Pottasleikir - Pot Licker
Askasleikir - Bowl Licker
Hurðaskellir - Door Slammer
Skyrgámur - Skyr Gobbler Skyr, an Icelandic yoghurt)
Bjúgnakrækir - Sausage Snatcher
Gluggagægir - Window Peeper
Gáttaþefur - Doorway Sniffer
Ketkrókur - Meat Hooker
Kertasníkir - Candle Beggar

The Jólasveinar come from a pretty horrid family. Their mother is the most infamous Icelandic troll of all – the deadly Grýla. She is mainly known for taking great pleasure in devouring naughty children, sometimes cooked but often raw, and it is believed that her sons’ original purpose was to bring her fresh meat when the hunger struck. Not as devious but still pretty mean is Grýla’s husband, Leppalúði, who partakes in all the nastiness but is a more passive figure.

However, the most vicious and weird family member is in all likelihood the deceivingly named Jólaköttur (Christmas Cat). This feline is said to be of gargantuan proportions (for a cat), and he has the sole purpose of eating disadvantaged children. Not necessarily naughty ones, something that would, in a way, be understandable; rather, the Christmas Cat chooses to feast on kids who fail to get a new clothes for Christmas


  1. Hi! Can I ask where you found that picture of a nun eating a baby? Just wondered if it was a part of the Gryla story from Iceland or if you found it from something else entirely, lol :D
    I'm just doing some research on the story.