Open Unwrapped Dec 12th: Yule Lads – on the greatest Open Education Resource: Wikipedia

University of Edinburgh festive bauble gift by Pingked (Flickr) CC BY-NC

Yule lads are 13 trolls from Icelandic folklore who put rewards (or punishments) in shoes laid out on windowsills by children on the 13 nights in the run up to Christmas. Some Yule lads are mere pranksters while some are… homicidal monsters who eat children.


Yule Lads - by Inga Vitola (Flickr) CC-BY

The Yule Lads – Picture taken by Inga Vitola (Flickr) and licensed CC-BY


You can find out more about the Yule lads (and when they’re due to arrive in town) on the greatest open education tool; Wikipedia.

But just in case, below is a list of their names & descriptions so you can watch out for them (and their monstrous Yule Cat)!


Icelandic Name English translation Description
Stekkjarstaur Sheep-Cote Clod Harasses sheep, but is impaired by his stiff peg-legs.
Giljagaur Gully Gawk Hides in gullies, waiting for an opportunity to sneak into the cowshed and steal milk.
Stúfur Stubby Abnormally short. Steals pans to eat the crust left on them.
Þvörusleikir Spoon-Licker Steals spoons to lick. Is extremely thin due to malnutrition.
Pottaskefill Pot-Scraper Steals leftovers from pots.
Askasleikir Bowl-Licker Hides under beds waiting for someone to put down their bowl which he then steals.
Hurðaskellir Door-Slammer Likes to slam doors, especially during the night.
Skyrgámur Skyr-Gobbler A Yule Lad with an affinity for skyr.
Bjúgnakrækir Sausage-Swiper Would hide in the rafters and snatch sausages that were being smoked.
Gluggagægir Window-Peeper A voyeur who would look through windows in search of things to steal.
Gáttaþefur Doorway-Sniffer Has an abnormally large nose and an acute sense of smell which he uses to locate laufabrauð.
Ketkrókur Meat-Hook Uses a hook to steal meat.
Kertasníkir Candle-Stealer Follows children in order to steal their candles.



Ewan McAndrew

Wikimedian in Residence

University of Edinburgh