The Icelandic Yule Lads are the sons of the trolls Grýla and Leppalúði. They come down from the mountains, one each of the thirteen nights before Christmas bringing children small treats In the days of yore however, they were anything but nice. Instead of bringing treats, they came to scare peple and steal what was most precious to them, their food.
The last of the Yule Lads to join the fun is no. 13, Kertasníkir (Candle Snatcher). He has a thing for candles. Back in the days of yore candles were made from tallow which Kertansníkir finds quite tasty, but nowadays tallow candles are hard to find, so I'm guessing he's found something else to eat and just enjoys watching the candles burn. In the olden days, the candles were often the only presents children would get for Christmas, so stealing them was kind of nasty of him. It could be why both Kjötkrókur, who used to steal the Christmas meal and Kertasníkir, who stole the presents, are now the Yule Lads that tend to bring slightly bigger treats than the rest of the lot. They just might have a guiltier consciense. Or it could be because Christmas is almost here!
In Iceland, Christmas arrives at 6 pm sharp on the 24th of December and that is when the big Christmas celebration takes place and gifts are exchanged. Then Icelanders continue the celebration on Christmas Day and the Second Day of Christmas (the 26th) with family gatherings and feasts. You might think that would be enough of Christmas celebrations, but not by a long shot. There are a variable number of work days in there between the 26th and the 31st, but that's no reason for not having more family gatherings that didn't fit in on the 25th and the 26th. There's only so much you can do in two days. Then the big festivities are repeated on New Year's Eve. New Year's day is a holiday as well, and there is certainly a good reason to welcome the new year with some good food and company. Then the celebrations start to wind down until Christmas is officially over on January 6th.
Gleðileg jól! Merry Christmas!
The Icelandic Christmas Legends ornaments from Raven Design, featuring the Yule Lads, Grýla, Leppalúði and the Yule Cat are now available in my online shop. Shipping is available to Europe and N-America, if your country is not listed, but you would like to buy the ornaments send me a line at email@example.com.