Four of the 13 Yule Lads (photo courtesy of

Four of the 13 Yule Lads (photo courtesy of

As I’ve mentioned before, Nordic countries have a slightly darker history when it comes to the Santa Claus myth. The Icelandic Santas aren’t really one guy…they’re 13 Yule Lads or jólasveinar that come down from the mountains and cause trouble for a couple weeks starting 13 days before Christmas.

They are the offspring of two trolls: Grýla and Leppalúð. Gryla is no slouch herself and likes to boil bad children and eat them. Part of the tradition is that kids are supposed to put a shoe in the window and the visiting lad will put some kind of gift in it, if they’ve been good…or a rotten potato, if they’ve been bad.

Last year A was too afraid of them to entertain the idea of them creeping around the house. This year I didn’t bring it up because the kid’s already getting a ton of stuff for Xmas, the last thing he needs is 13 MORE gifts.

But the school was all abuzz yesterday with news of who got what in their shoe. A actually took it quite well and took full responsibility for being passed over because he forgot to put his shoe in the window…bless him.

So last night he got the full treatment. Snowboot in the window. And an Oreo on the plate for Giljagaur (Gully Gawk) who hides in gullies waiting for an opportunity to steal milk. Unfortunately, Giljagaur DID come, and A realized it out about 1:00am…burst into our bedroom to tell us about it…and was too excited to go back to sleep for another hour.

Needless to say that when 6:30am rolled around, I did not understand nor appreciate the pile of empty milk containers on the dining room table that my hubby had painstakingly arranged.

So maybe no tell-tale cookie tonight. We’ll see how we fare with Stúfur (Stubby) who steals pans to eat the crust left on them. Maybe he’ll do me a favor and take any dirty dishes as well.