Saturday, December 24, 2016

Yule Lads

How did I not know about Yule Lads!?!
Hairdress creating elaborate Christmas tree hair including ornaments c. 1970s. Yule Lads and other stories of Christmas Creepers.
 Cultural egocentrism? 
Gruss Vom Krampus. Vintage postcard of devil looking Krampus pushing a bad boy into his basket. His sister appears unconcerned. Yule Lads and other stories of Christmas Creepers.
I didn't learn about Krampus and Shockhead Peter until recently. 
Vintage and disturbing illustration of Enfant Terrible Shockheaded Peter. Peter stands by the mirror with wild, tangled hair. Yule Lads and other stories of Christmas Creepers.
How did I not know about this? 
Yule Lads come to Icelandic homes in December and leave gifts, or if appropriate, rotten potatoes, in children's shoes.  
There are currently 13 accepted Yule Lads who each have an assigned night leading up to Christmas Eve.

Yule Lads and other stories of Christmas Creepers.

Prior to the jolly and rotund Santa, Yule Lads were pranksters, trolls, or homicidal children-eating monsters (depending on who you asked and when you asked them.)
A minimalist illustration of the homicidal Yule Cat of Iceland. Yule Lads and other stories of Christmas Creepers.
If that isn't terrifying enough, they are accompanied by the Yule Cat, also homicidal and child-eating but with an unusual preference. 
The Yule Cat only consumes chilren who do not receive new clothes before Christmas Eve. 
Blacker than the Night Arthur Rackham illustration for Grimm's Fairy Tales
A giant feline who consumes apparel-deficient villagers? 
Seriously, how did I not know about this? 
Illustration of The Yule Cat by Peter Francisfahy
Evidently, some form of fear-based motivation was needed to ensure completion of wool processing before winter. 
Folk art style illustration of Gryla a giant troll and mother to the 13 Yulemen who steal bad children on Christmas Eve
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. 
Vintage Greeting card of Icelandic jólasveinar (yule-lads). Yule Lads and other stories of Christmas Creepers.
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 baking 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.)
Christms illustration by Nyström featuring Jultomte or Gnomes amiring a gingerbread people
Skyr-Gobbler: steals skyr, a dairy product that has the consistency of strained yogurt. 
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.
Pen and Ink Illustration of Window-Peeper by Gustaf Tenggren
Window-Peeper: a snoop who 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. 
Santa rides a mechanical bull. Yule Lads and other stories of Christmas Creepers.
As culturally egocentric as I am, you may wonder how I finally 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 my idea of bliss is Stephen Fry, obscure trivia, and British banter. 
Sandi-Toksvig QI BBC promo

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 the joint founder of the Women's Equality Party and the Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth. 
Sandi Toksvig quote on fat and dementia
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 . . . 
13 Icelandic guys dressed as the Yule Lads
and in this case, 13 originally terrifying childhood nightmares that I'm thrilled I know about. 
#Christmas #Yule #BBC
Other Stories of Christmas Creepers:

A Pleasant Christmas Story

Six to Eight Black Men

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