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Yuletide Lads, Gryla and Leppaludi.

by Petur Sigurdsson, Broker and Erna Sigurdsson, Real

Yuletide Lads, Gryla and Leppaludi

This is how the National Museum of Iceland's shows and explains the story of the 13 Yuletide Lads (Icelandic Santa Clauses) on their website.

The Icelandic jólasveinar (Yuletide Lads) have absolutely nothing to do with the international red-clothed Santa Claus, who is a version of St. Nicholas. The Yuletide Lads are descended from trolls, and orginally they were bogeymen who were used to scare children. During this century they have mellowed, and they sometimes wear their best, red, suits. But they still tend to pilfer and play tricks.

The number of Yuletide Lads varied in olden times from one region of Iceland to another. The number 13 is first seen in a poem on Grýla (the Lads' mother) in the 18th century, and their names were published by Jón Árnason in his folklore collection in 1862. About 60 different names of Yuletide Lads are known.

They visit the National Museum on each of the 13 days before Christmas. They usually wear their old Icelandic costumes, and try to pilfer the goodies each likes best.



Holidays - Grýla and Leppalúði

by Petur Sigurdsson, Realtor

Grýla and Leppalúði

Grýla og LeppalúðiWithout a doubt, the most hideous ogres that ever existed in Iceland are the Yule Lads' parents – particularly their mother, Grýla. Not only are they descended from trolls, they also present an overwhelming threat to children. Unlike their sons, they have changed little in this respect over the course of the centuries. To this day they are used to frighten children, and those children know as well as they ever did that Grýla likes nothing better than feasting on naughty children. In the folk tales of Jón Árnason, the description of Grýla is not exactly flattering:

“Grýla has three heads and three eyes in each head ... Horribly long, curved fingernails, icy blue eyes at the back of the head and horns like a goat, her ears dangle down to her shoulders and are attached to the nose in front. She has a beard on her chin that is like knotted yarn on a weave with tangles hanging from it, while her teeth are like burnt rocks in a grate.”

Not many people would want to encounter the fiend described above! Judging by this description, it is it any wonder that Grýla strikes fear in the hearts of small children?

Grýla the ogress has been a part of Icelandic mythology for a very long time. Documentation about her goes all the way back to the 13th Century. In a verse from Sturlunga saga, Grýla is described as a monster with 15 tails. A similar description may be found in a poem from the 16th Century; however, that version takes the description further by claiming that each tail contains 100 sacks, and each of those sacks 20 children. So as early as the 16th century Grýla was documented as being a serious menace to children – and she still is. A greater number of poems about Grýla and her riff-raff were preserved in subsequent centuries, especially the 17th and 18th Centuries, and Grýla was first linked to Christmas around that time. Sources say she came to town shortly before Christmas in search of naughty children and frequently wound up in extensive debates with the heads of the various households, who naturally wished to protect their children from this horrific ogress. In these poems Grýla is described as being just as hideous as in Jón Árnason's folk tales.

GrýlaThough most documentation about Grýla focuses on her hideous appearance and threat to children, some also deals with her love life. According to some sources, Grýla has been married three times. Her first husband was named Gustur, but that marriage did not last since Grýla reportedly ate him. She subsequently took a husband by the name of Boli, with whom she had a number of children. Meanwhile, Grýla's present husband, Leppalúði, is familiar to most people, and he is generally nearby when Grýla appears. The pair of them are said to have produced 20 children, of which 13 are the popular Yule Lads.

Even though Grýla is still actively used to frighten children, some sources maintain that she is dead. This information pops up in various popular Christmas songs and, unsurprisingly, not many people mourn Grýla's demise. Some of the songs, however, contain provisions that she could come back to life if the number of naughty children increases. All of which is to say that Grýla and Leppalúði are still used to frighten children into behaving, even from beyond the grave. There is just no knowing what will happen with ogresses like Grýla, and all children are advised to be on their best behaviour, just in case.

Contact Erna and Petur Sigurdsson, Realtors at The Viking Team, Realty at 321-263-5096 for help buying or selling a home in Longwood, Lake Mary, Altamonte Springs, Sanford, Seminole and Orange County and the surrounding areas of Central Florida. To Search For Homes For Sale in Central Florida Click Here. 

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