Monster Monday: Yule Lads

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Yule Lads.

Yule Lads on a billboard in Dimmuborgir national park in Iceland.
Yule Lads on a billboard in Dimmuborgir national park in Iceland. (Link to attribution)

The Yule Lads are figures in Icelandic folklore. They are thirteen brothers, the sons of mountain trolls, who come down off the mountain every December and visit peoples homes on the thirteen days before Christmas. They are usually depicted as old men with long beards, dressed in traditional peasant outfits. Children place their shoes on the windowsill, and the Yule Lads leave presents for children who have been good and rotten potatoes for children who have been bad.

They also like to play pranks, and they have descriptive names related to what they like to do, such as Spoon Licker and Sausage Swiper. Other pranks include stealing pots, candles, leftover food from bowls, and milk from cows and sheep; slamming doors in the middle of the night; and peering into windows. They are often accompanied by the Yule Cat, a dangerous beast that eats people who don’t receive new clothes for Christmas.

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