Saturday, December 24, 2016

Yule Lads

How did I not know about Yule Lads!?! 

Traditional cultural egocentrism? 

I didn't learn about Krampus and Shockhead Peter until recently. 

What other awesome stuff am I missing? 

Yule Lads come to Icelandic homes in December and leave gifts, or if appropriate, rotten potatoes, in children's shoes. As reported by Wikipedia, there are currently 13 accepted Yule Lads who each have an assigned night leading up to Christmas Eve.  

Initially, prior to the Jolly Diabetic Santa, Yule Lads were pranksters, trolls or homicidal children-eating monsters . . . as are most prior versions of childhood myths. 

If that isn't terrifying enough, they are accompanied by the Yule Cat, also homicidal and child-eating but with an unusual constraint.  The Yule Cat only consumes people who do not receive new clothes before Christmas Eve. 

A giant feline who consumes apparel-deficient villagers? 

Seriously, how did I not know about this? 

Evidently some form of fear based motivation was needed to ensure completion of wool processing before winter. No wool, no clothes along with an additional threat of being devoured.

GrĂ½la, a giant troll and mother of the Yule Lads, comes down from the mountains on Christmas Eve. With then help of her boys, she abducts and then eats all of the bad children. 

The 13 Yule Lads:

Sheep Cote Clod: harasses sheep, but is impaired by his stiff peg-legs. 

Gully Gawk: hides in gullies and sneaks into the cowshed to steal milk.

Stubby: steals pans to eat any remaining crusts.

Spoon-Licker: steals and licks pvorur, a wooden spoon with a long handle.
(With the additional cheerful note: he is extremely thin due to malnutrition.) 

Pot-Scraper: as would be expected, steals leftovers from pots.

Bowl-Licker: hides under the bed, waiting for someone to put down their bowl. (I'm assuming eating in bed in Iceland, pre centralized heating, was a popular thing.)

Skyr-Gobbler: steals skyr, a dairy product that has the consistency of strained yogurt but a much milder flavor.
Door-Slamme: likes to slam doors, especially at night. 

Sausage-Swiper: hides in the rafters, and per his moniker, snatches sausages while they are being smoked.

Window-Peeper: a snoop who would looks through windows in search of things to steal.

Doorway-Sniffer: uses his large nose to smell for laufabraud, a thin Christmas bread decorated with leaf patterns and fried in oil.

Meat-Hook: as would be expected, uses a hook to steal meat.

Candle-Stealer: steals and then eats candles.
(Based on candles being made of edible tallow instead of wax. The "eating candles" evidently needed  an explanation to make the 13 Yule brothers believable.) 

As culturally egocentric as I am, you may wonder how I found this amazingly terrific bit of knowledge.

The same way I learn everything! 
Youtube and the BBC. 

QI (Quite Interesting) was hosted by Stephen Fry and if you know anything about me, you know my idea of bliss is Stephen Fry, trivia and British banter. 

After thirteen years, QI has a new host . . . 
and she is fantastic!

Sandi Toksvig is a Danish/British comedy genius who spent her youth "mostly' in New York City. 

In addition to lots of other sensational stuff, she is joint founder of the Women's Equality Party and the Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth. 

Her new play, Silver Lining will debut in February. 

"I wanted to write a play for the wonderful mature actresses in this country so it stars six fabulous women. It’s The Great Escape without motorcycles, really."

She recently started boxing and has some mad construction skills. "You want a kitchen put in, I’m your girl . . .  I fit all the stereotypes of the lesbian with power tools."

Making QI her own, she presents a randy Scandi, or random Scandinavian fact 

and in this case 13 originally terrifying childhood nightmares that I'm thrilled I know about. 

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