Posts Tagged ‘Yule Lads’

My new book, “Jólasveinarnir: The Yule Lads and Their Family” Is now available on Kindle and Amazon, worldwide. Here is the description from Amazon:


The Yule Lads have been around for many years, their story unchanged. They are a major part of the holiday season in Iceland. What I have done here is to reinterpret them, through the eyes of an outsider, and to modernize them, just a little. I have also included other members of their family that have not had much written about them, namely Grýla and the Yule Cat. I have actually given the Yule Cat a name. I have also found twelve “lost” Yule Lads and I couldn’t find anything written about them except their names, so I have created identities for each. It’s my hope to keep these characters and stories alive long after I am gone.


Here is the link to check out the book:


Book Cover

Book Cover


The Yule Lads

The Yule Lads


Recently I wrote a story on Iceland’s “Yule Lads”, and it was very well received. As I truly love the culture and stories of Iceland I have done a lot of reading on it. Besides the Yule Lads, there are other holiday characters that I have found, but suprisingly, there hasn’t been much written in English. I have taken two characters, Gry’la and The Yule Cat, and have written a few short lines for each. My goal being to write about all the Icelandic characters I can find and put them all in one book. If you have any stories like these I would love to hear them. I have even gone out on a limb and given the Yule Cat a name, I’m hoping that’s OK, we’ll see. I can be reached at

Here they are :


From a time that was so long ago,

She comes from high in her icy cave,

To frighten all of the boys and girls,

And take home the ones that misbehave.


She is known far and wide as Grýla,

And once in her home, like it or not,

You will become part of her dinner,

An ingredient in her stew pot.


She and her sons the thirteen Yule lads,

So many don’t believe they are real,

But if you don’t mind both your parents,

They will have you for their winter meal.


So if you see Grýla approaching,

Be sure to be good and act your best,

‘Cause if you don’t you may find yourself,

Cooking in her cauldron with the rest.


 Ken Barr


The Yule Cat

When the Christmas holiday draws near,

She will find you, wherever you are,

She is the Yule Cat known as Úlfa,

And she comes searching both near and far.


She prowls the streets looking for children,

That didn’t get new holiday clothing,

And when she finds these poor little waifs,

She begins her holiday feasting.


Úlfa will eat all the little ones,

That did not get clothes for a present,

Searching all the towns and villages,

Finding them no matter where they went.


So when next December comes around,

Tell your family every day,

That you would like a sweater or socks,

Some new clothing for your holiday.


Ken Barr

YULE_CAT_by_Quizzical_Squidopus has posted a link to my Yule Lads poem in their letters section. Thank you for your support, Ken

Here is the link :



The Yule Lads:

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 !!

I can be contacted at

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