Yuletide Tales | 13 Yule Lads

We love a tradition, and even more so if the tradition has the extra charm of being a little bit different. A shoe on a windowsill? A potato in our shoe if we haven’t been behaving? We’re all ears.
As winter blankets the picturesque landscapes of Iceland, a unique and charming tradition comes to life, captivating locals and visitors alike. The tradition of the Yule Lads, or "Jólasveinar" in Icelandic, adds a touch of magic to the holiday season, bringing joy, mischief, and a whole lot of character to the festive atmosphere.
Originating from Icelandic folklore, the Yule Lads are a group of mischievous, troll-like figures who are said to descend from the mountains to visit the towns and villages during the 13 nights leading up to Christmas. Each Yule Lad has a distinct personality and a peculiar habit, making their visits a mixture of playful pranks and heartwarming surprises.
These Yule Lads were traditionally depicted as more sinister characters in the past. The story of the Yule Lads, their mother Grýla, and the Yule cat became such a terrifying method to get children to behave that in 1746 parents were banned from telling their stories. Not to let a tradition die, over time, they've transformed into more playful and lovable figures. In modern times, they've become a beloved part of Icelandic holiday celebrations, bringing a sense of anticipation and excitement for both children and adults.
As December unfolds, Icelandic households often place shoes in their windowsills, and children eagerly await the nightly visits of the Yule Lads. If they've been good, they might find a small gift or treat in their shoes; if not, they might receive a playful reminder to mend their ways – often in the form of a potato.
So, if you ever find yourself in the enchanting land of Iceland during the holiday season, keep an eye out for the mischievous Yule Lads. With their quirky personalities and heartwarming traditions, they're sure to add an extra layer of magic to your winter journey.
(And while you're there, pop a shoe out on the windowsill and see how it goes!)