Christmas Traditions Around the World: The 13 Yule Lads from Iceland


Would you believe me if I told you that there are 13 Santa Clauses in Iceland? It sounds like every child’s dream, doesn’t it? But as we say, all that glitters is not gold.

There are 13 official Yule Lads (Icelandic Santa Clauses) in Iceland. The problem is, they aren’t that positive and lovable as the traditional Santa Claus. The Yule Lads originate from Icelandic folklore. Originally, they were depicted as being mischievous and evil rascals.

Luckily, through the passing years, the Yule Lads became more friendly and kind. In modern times, they even put small gifts (or potatoes, if the child has misbehaved) into shoes placed by children on their windows. The Yule Lads come down from mountains to towns during the last 13 nights before Christmas, each staying for two weeks.

The first Yule Lad comes on 12th of December. His name is Sheep-Cote Clod. He harasses sheep and is impaired by his stiff peg-legs. On 13th of December comes Gully Gawk. He hides in gullies, waiting for an opportunity to sneak into the cowshed and steal milk. You will find the schedule and descriptions of the other Yule Lads on the dedicated Wikipedia page

Each year in December icelandic milk company MS releases milk cartons with images of Yule Lads.

Some illustrations of the Yule Lads! You can find more at

I think it is wonderful that Icelandic folklore is so alive and popular. It’s amazing to see great changes in children I am working with behavior in beginning of December. No one wants potato in one’s shoe.

Information for this article were taken from Wikipedia and

written by lighthouse_keeperess on 2011-12-15 #lifestyle #santa-claus #lads #naughty #christmas #lomography #troll #potato #analogue-lifestyle #yule #icelandic-tradition #yulemen #jolasveinar


  1. tomkiddo
    tomkiddo ·

    great article! i love folktales :)

  2. daihowell
    daihowell ·

    I love this article, gives me a brilliant idea for my house mate hehe

  3. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    I had no idea, thanks. :D

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