Friday, December 11, 2009

Stekkjastaur

Did you know that I have a giveaway going on right now? Click here for the details.


I am going to tell you a little bit of background on The Yule Lads before I go into the story of the first Yule Lad.

In Icelandic we call the Yule Lads Jólasveinar. The story of the Yule Lads is as old as the story of Grýla and her lovers. As per the stories Grýla supposedly had over 80 children and they were as ugly and evil as their parents. The Yule Lads started off being a scare tactic for children and then in 1746 the authorities felt it necessary to issue the following decree:

The foolish custom, which has been practised here and there about the country , of scaring children with Yuletide lads or ghosts, shall be abolished.

In the nineteenth century the Yule Lads were reduced to thirteen rascally, petty pilfers that are recognised today. They are now good guys that do not eat children and are not evil at all. They are still rather ugly though.

The Yule Lads wear traditional, shabby farm clothes and have beards in every shade and size. Over the course of the last century the Yule Lads have taken to leaving children small gifts like the traditional Santa Clause does. The difference is that Icelandic children leave their shoe (preferably a new dress up shoe that the child is going to wear on Christmas) in their bedroom window. The first Yule Lad comes down from the mountains 13 days before Christmas and leaves a present in the shoe. If the child is naughty the Yule Lads will leave a rotten potato in the shoe instead of a present. The presents are nothing extravagant, usually just a piece of candy, matchbox car, pencil, little dolly or something of that sort.

Now just like Santa Clause the Yule Lads manage to cover the whole country in one night leaving a present in every child's shoe. Now mind you, Iceland only has a population of about 300 thousand people so that is nothing compared to what Santa Clause has to cover.

Now on to the first Yule Lad.

His name is Stekkjastaur.


In English he is called The Sheep Warrior. Sheep Warrior comes out of the mountains tonight December 11th and leaves a present for the children in their shoe which they will find the morning of the 12th. He is probably one of the oldest brothers and appears to suffer from rheumatism. He gets his name because back in the day he used to sneak into the sheep cot because he is feeling rather thirsty after his long trek from the mountains. He would try to drink from the ewes but fail because he was too stiff to bend down. Why sheep would have any milk in December anyway is beyond me. Now a days Sheep Warrior just takes a drink from the milk in your refrigerator when he drops off a present in the children's shoes.


Stay tuned for the story of the second Yule Lad tomorrow.

2 comments:

Ellen said...

Kem reglulega hingað inn til að lesa bloggið þitt. Þú ert frábær penni Helga, nýt þess að lesa um jólasveinabloggið þitt. Sérstaklega þar sem ég er nú íslendingur, eins og þú, búsett erlendis.

Hlakka til að lesa meira....

Kveðja, Ellen

Pennie said...

Ditto what Ellen said (ha ha)
No, actually I was just going to say how much I am enjoying this tale - so are my kids! :) Thanks for sharing!