Posts Tagged ‘Icelandic’

The Icelandic Yule Lads is now available. With text by Ken Barr, these lads are brought to life beautifully by Danya Esposito, they are soon to be a holiday classic !!     Available on Amazon and Kindle…

Sheep Cote Meat Hook Sausage Swiper


I have been reading about the Icelandic holiday mythology of the Yule Lads, and it’s very interesting. What I have done here is to take what I have found and update / translate their story and poem. I have relied on previous works, but this is my interpretation. I have used the translated names of some, and kept with the Icelandic names of others. I have also tried to stay true to the style and feel of the true Icelandic version. Happy Holidays !!

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Here is a link to the Icelandic site so that you can read about the Yule lads for yourself:

And now, here is my version of “The Yule Lads”

The Yule Lads

Living in caves out of town,
They wait all year for their chance,
For mischief in December,
To dance their holiday dance.

The thirteen sons of Grýla,
Their father Leppalúði,
Each yuletide season they come,
For mischief, wait and you’ll see.

Each one is so different,
In the antics that they choose,
But they’re brothers after all,
Each one with nothing to lose.

So starting December twelfth,
They come to town one by one,
Each day brings another lad,
As they come to have their fun.
The first of them was Sheep-Cote.
With legs as stiff as wood,
He wanted the farmer’s sheep
Their milk was very good.

He tried to milk the ewes,
But couldn’t in the end,
His knees were much too stiff,
He could not make them bend.
Second there came Gully Imp,
A crafty little elf,
He would sneak into the barn,
And steal the milk for himself.

He would hide among the stalls,
And give the cows a quick wink,
Before he stole the milk pail,
Faster than you think.
The third brother was Stubby,
A short and stout little man,
He loved to eat the scrapings,
From the bottom of a pan.

Slipping pans into his pouch,
Whenever he was able,
He‘d eat the burnt bits in them,
At his own dinner table.
Spoon Licker, the fourth brother,
So thin and always hungry,
Would lick the spoons while cooking,
Which made the good chef angry.

Sneaking into the kitchen,
He would pull the cooking spoon,
From the meal upon the stove,
And he‘d lick it much too soon.
The fifth brother Pot Scraper,
He loved to eat the scrapings,
That were cooked into the pots,
The ones that he was stealing.

He‘d sneak into the houses,
Thinking himself so clever,
And off he‘d run with the pots,
To feast upon his treasure.
Bowl Licker the sixth brother,
He would always lick the bowl,
That was placed upon the floor,
Getting it was his main goal.

He would lick every bowl clean,
That was meant for dog or cat,
And then he‘s laugh to himself,
And say,“how do you like that“.
Seventh brother Door Slammer,
Such an angry little man,
When people home were sleeping,
He‘d be as loud as he can.

Slamming doors and making noise,
Not a very good house guest,
With all of his door slamming,
No one home could get much rest.
Skyrgámur the eighth brother,
Would steal into the houses,
And gobble up their yogurt,
Milk, cream, skyr and cheeses.

He‘d eat all that he could find,
Too much food for one alone,
Still he ate until it hurt,
Then he‘d start to howl and groan.
Sausage Swiper was the ninth,
A crafty little raider,
Hiding in the house rafters,
Waiting to steal his dinner.

From his perch on high watching,
The cooking of the nightly meal,
Swiping sausage when he could,
And waiting for more to steal.
And tenth was Window Peeper,
Always peeking through the glass,
Looking for things he could steal,
There was nothing he would pass.

He‘s always on the look out,
For treasures that he can steal,
He‘s always got his eyes out,
For valuables so real.
Door Sniffer was eleventh,
Always looking for lace bread,
He could smell it from so far,
Or sniffing for cakes instead.

With a nose as large as his,
He could smell lace bread for miles,
No ones food was safe from him,
He had his crafty wiles.
Ketkrókur the twelfth brother,
Many skills he would display,
Stealing meat with his long hook,
Eating on St. Thorlak‘s Day.

Standing upon the chimneys,
Stealing many legs of lamb,
While using his long meat hook,
Saying , ” This is who I am”.
Thirteenth was Candle Beggar,
A cold and lonely young elf,
Following children begging,
For candles to have himself.

The brightest lights he could find,
So special for Christmas Eve,
To have a candle so bright,
A miracle to believe.
The last brother arrives on,
December twenty fourth,so,
Having had all of their fun,
The brothers prepare to go.

With the holidays over,
One by one they return home,
And dream about next season,
When they make their Christmas roam.

Ken Barr
December 22, 2013

Copyright Ken Barr 2013


My newest book, “Byrjar Aftur” is now available on Kindle, and the paperback version will be available on Amazon later in the week.

Poetry and prose, some of which I have published on this Blog, about the major changes in my life and how I have dealt with them. Preceding each piece is a line or two about what prompted each piece. The title translates, “Starting Over Again” and that’s what it’s really about. Starting over.

My new book, “Byrjar Aftur” will be hitting Amazon and Kindle in the next few days, please watch for it.

Thanks, Ken