Mischievous characters come alive in Icelandic folklore as part of Christmas tradition. The thirteen Yule Lad have their traits and come and stick around for the thirteen days before and after Christmas. Each day there is a new one that is said to appear and cause some sort of trouble.
Originally portrayed as thieves and pranksters, there is a lighter side to the Yule Lads who are said to leave gifts in children’s shoes on Christmas Eve if they have been good. If they have not been good then they get a punishment. Not to mention, the Yule Lads leave presents for those who have been good and rotting potatoes for those who have been bad.
The thirteen Yule Lads are said to be brothers and the sons of Gryla. Gryla is the giantess who is the owner of the Yule Cat Jolakotturin, who eats people who don’t have new clothes on Christmas Eve. The ages vary among them ranging from old age to thirteen, even though they all resemble Santa Claus. Each brother has a day that they appear and leave. Not to mention, they are said to have an individual crimes of mischief they create.
- Stekkjarstaur- He comes December 12 and stays until December 25th. He harasses sheep, however, he is impaired by peg legs.
- Giljagaur- Comes on December 13th and leaves on December 26. He hides in the gullies waiting for opportunities to sneak into a cowshed and steal milk.
- Stúfur- Said to be abnormally short, on December 14 he comes and sticks around until December 27. He enjoys stealing pans to eat the crust off of them.
- Þvörusleikir- On December 15 this spoon- licker comes to town. A special wooden spoon called a Þvörur he likes to lick due to poor nutrition. The day he leaves town is December 28.
- Pottaskefill- On December 16, he is said to steal the leftovers from pots, until the day he leaves December 29.
- Askasleikir- On December 17, you better check under your bed! This fellow likes to hide under beds until a special bowl with a lid is placed down. He then steals the bowl. Luckily, he leaves on December 30.
- Hurðaskellir- If you hear doors slamming constantly between December 18 and Deceber 31, then you know who to blame. This prankster enjoys slamming the doors during the night.
- Skyrgámur- The Icelandic dairy product of skyr is favorite treat of this fellow who enjoys eating them between December 19-January 1.
- Bjúgnakrækir- From December 20 to January 2nd you better hide your sausage! He enjoys hiding in the rafters to steal sausages that are being smoked. So, you might want to find a new place to smoke your sausages.
- Gluggagægir- December 21, this sneaky fellow is said to enjoy looking through windows to see what to steal until January 3rd.
- Gáttaþefur- With an abnormally large nose, this fellow enjoys sniffing out the Icelandic flat bread, Laufabrauo from December 22 to January 4th.
- Ketkrókur- Enjoys using a meat hook to steal meat from December 23 to January 5th.
- Kertasníkir- From December 24th to January 6th, the final Yule Lad follows children in order to steal their candles. But these are special candles made of tallow, a form of beef or mutton fat, so they are edible.
I found learning about the Yule Lads interesting. At the very beginning they are said to be petty criminals to eating children. As you can see times have changed since then. The Yule Lads seem to partake in mischievous pranks across Iceland.