YULETIDE on ICELAND  
the yuletide lads

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DECEMBER 18th

Hurđaskellir is the "door slammer". His greatest fun is to slam the doors and thus waking or scaring the people during the night.

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER 19th 

Skyrgámur's favourite dish is Skyr, an Icelandic type of yoghurt. The only problem is that he eats too much of it...............

Skyr Gobbler, the eighth one,
Was a terrible bull.
The lid off the skyr tub
With his fist he smashed.

Then he gobbled up
As much as he could,
Till he was close to bursting
And moaned and grunted.

 

DECEMBER 20th

 

Bjúgnakrćkir is fond of saucages. To get a meal he hides up in the rafters, snatches away the saucages that are being smoked there and then hurries to a safe place to eat them all.

 

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER 21st 

Gluggagćgir is not only a window peeper.........

Tenth was Window Peeper
A grumpy lad,
Who sneaked to the window
And looked through it.

If anything was inside
Nice to look at,
He usually later
Tried to get that.

 

DECEMBER 22nd

 

Gáttaţefur, the door sniffer, has a big and funny nose that he uses to smell the scent of fresh bread. But I guess he doesn't stop at just sniffing the bread.

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER 23rd

Ketkrókur is named after his instrument, a meat hook.

Meat Hooker, the twelfth one,
Knew a thing or two. -
He marched into the country
On St. Thorlak's Day.

He hooked a bit of meat
Whenever he could.
But often a little short
was at times his staff.

Ţorláksmessa - St. Thorlak's Day.
Iceland's major native Saint is heilagur Ţorlákur Ţórhallsson, or St. Thorlakur Thorhallsson, Bishop of Skálholt. He has two days dedicated to him: December 23rd, which commemorates his death in 1193, and his other day, July 20th, which celebrates the exhumation of his bones. The main custom associated with Ţorláksmessa is the partaking of a simple meal of skata. This custom, which originated in the West Fjords, has become traditional all over Iceland. The Yule tree is usually decorated on this evening.

DECEMBER 24th 

Kertasníkir is the 13th and last of the Jólasveinir, who arrives on Yule Eve. Although the translation says candle beggar, we believe that Brian Pilkington gives a closer interpretation. In deck 4 Kertasníkir is portrayed as if he has just snatched away two candles and holding a chandeleer. In terms of the wintersolstice he could well symbolize the shortest day, when the most daylight is stolen from man. 

The Jól or Yule celebrations start in Iceland at 6 p.m. on Ađfangadagur, Christmas Eve/Yule Eve. This may have descended from the old days, when a new day began not at midnight but at 6pm. So in Iceland there are thirteen rather than twelve days in the Yuletide season.
It is the day that all Icelandic children await impatiently, as after the evening meal they can open their Yule presents. TV transmissions stop in Iceland around 5 p.m. on Ađfangadagur and only restarts at 10 p.m. It is usually the immediate family that spends Ađfangadagur together.
Traditional Yule food is Hangikjöt, smoked mutton. In times past a sheep was often slaughtered before the beginning of the Yuletide season and a rich Kjötsúpa or mutton soup served. Another traditional delicacy, the Rjúpa or rock ptarmigan, started out as the poor man's dinner but is now an expensive meal. Grautur, porridge, on the other hand, was in past times a delicacy in Iceland because of the scarcity of grain. Another Yuletide specialty is Laufabrauđ or leaf bread. This is very thin sheets of dough cut into intricate patterns and fried.
When the presents are opened, according to the children, the real Yule begins.

          

 

The Jólaköttur(inn), the Yuletide Cat, is said to eat those who have been lazy in the past year.

Jóladagur, Christmas Day/Yule Day, is usually reserved for the extended family. On this day the first of the Jólasveinir goes back home. He will be followed each day by another one, until they are all back in the mountains.

Annar Jóladagur, Boxing Day, is yet another day of feasting; usually siblings or close friends visit each other and partake in even more sumptuous food and pastry. The period between Yule and New Year's is usually a time of recuperation in Iceland.

Gamlárskvöld/Nýársdagur, New Year's Eve/New Year's Day, is one of the most magical nights of the year, the night when the old year changes into the new. This night was also the eighth night of Yule: cows gain human speech, seals take on human form, the dead rise from their graves, and the Elves move house.

Ţrettándinn, Twelfth Night, is on January 6th. It's the last day of the Yule period, celebrated in latter years with bonfires and Elfin dances. Many of the magical happenings associated with New Year's Eve are also supposed to occur on Ţrettándinn.

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