About Yule Lads – Icelandic Version of Santa Claus

The Yule Lads, or Yulemen, (Icelandic: jólasveinarnir or jólasveinar) are figures from Icelandic folklore who in modern times have become the Icelandic version of Santa Claus.

Icelandic Yule Lads Photo

The Yule Lads, or Yulemen are thirteen in number and they put rewards or punishments into shoes placed by children in window sills during the last thirteen nights before Christmas Eve.

The number of Yule Lads has varied throughout the centuries but now they are consistently thirteen. The number 13 was first seen in a poem in the 18th century and the names that they carry today was published in Jón Árnason’s folklore collection of 1862.

Their current names are: Stekkjastaur (Sheepfold Stick), Giljagaur (Gilly Oaf), Stúfur (Shorty), Þvörusleikir (Spoon-licker), Pottasleikir (Pot-licker), Askasleikir (Bowl-licker), Hurðaskellir (Door-slammer), Skyrgámur (Skyr-glutton), Bjúgnakrækir (Sausage-pilfer), Gluggagægir (Peeper), Gáttaþefur (Sniffer), Ketkrókur (Meat-hook) and Kertasníkir (Candle-begger).

Also See : Photos of Icelandic Yule Lads

The Yule Lads are traditionally said to be the sons of the mountain-dwelling trolls Grýla and Leppalúði. It is believed that every night, one Yuletide lad visits each child, leaving gifts or rotting potatoes into the shoe place by children depending on the child’s behavior throughout the year.

Find below are the names of thirteen Yule Lads in the order they arrive and depart.

Icelandic Name



Stekkjastaur Harasses sheep, but is impaired by his stiff peg-legs. December 12
Giljagaur Hides in gullies, waiting for an opportunity to sneak into the cowshed and steal milk. December 13
Stúfur Abnormally short. Steals pans to eat the crust left on them. December 14
Þvörusleikir Steals Þvörur (a type of a wooden spoon with a long handle – I. þvara) to lick. Is extremely thin due tomalnutrition. December 15
Pottaskefill Steals leftovers from pots. December 16
Askasleikir Hides under beds waiting for someone to put down their ‘askur’ (a type of bowl with a lid used instead of dishes), which he then steals. December 17
Hurðaskellir Likes to slam doors, especially during the night. December 18
Skyrgámur A Yule Lad with an affinity for skyr. December 19
Bjúgnakrækir Would hide in the rafters and snatch sausages that were being smoked. December 20
Gluggagægir A voyeur who would look through windows in search of things to steal. December 21
Gáttaþefur Has an abnormally large nose and an acute sense of smell which he uses to locate laufabrauð. December 22
Ketkrókur Uses a hook to steal meat. December 23
Kertasníkir Follows children in order to steal their candles (which in those days was made oftallow and thus edible). December 24