Traveler’s Advent Calendar: The Icelandic Yule Lads

Everyone is waiting for Christmas because Santa Claus (or the Magi) will come and make that special day full of gifts.

But can you imagine that instead of just one day a year they visit you 13 times?

This happens in beautiful and far away Iceland where they make this time of year something special.

Yes, as you read, 13 gifts; 13 visits and 13 surprises.

Viaje vegetariano a Islandia

Today we open the door of our Advent Traveller Calendar to those who are perhaps the most sympathetic and endearing characters of Christmas: the Yule Lads.

The 13 Icelandic sleepers

The 13 boys or 13 Yule Lads who star in our Travelling Advent Calendar are descendants of the Icelandic trolls who live in the mountains.

Originally they were somewhat evil beings with whom parents frightened their children. But time made them become more tender and today they dedicate themselves to doing some mischief.

The number of Yule Lads changed over the years, but in the 18th century a poem by Jon Arnason stated that they were 13.

Icelandic folklore says that the 13 “goblins” live with their parents Grýla and Leppalúði in the mountains.

One by one the 13

Each of these Icelandic characters has a name and function that, as you can see, you can guess by the way they are called.

Yule Lads

If they come to visit you you should know their names and their original Icelandic version:

Stekkjastaur: Known for trying to suck the roof of the sheds where the sheep are found.

gawking voyeur (Giljagaur): Steals foam from the milk cubes of cows

El bajito (Stúfur): His short stature allows him to steal food from frying pans without being seen.

Spoon sucker (Þvörusleikir): Dedicated to sucking the spoons of kitchens

Lame pots (Pottasleikir): If you leave a dirty pot, comes this Yule Lad and leaves you clean with laps.

Lame boles (Askasleikir): It looks like the previous one but this one is more about boles.

Portazos (Hurðaskellir): He devotes himself to knocking and slamming at night, waking everyone up.

Skyr Glutton: He likes Icelandic yogurt (skyr) so much that you can get rid of all the yogurt you have.

He steals sausages (Bjúgnakrækir): He is also a hungry thief who steals your food.

Mirón (Gluggagægir): He likes to look out of windows and if he likes something he steals it from you.

Smeller (Gáttaþefur): He has a nose and an appetite that he can smell if there is baked food and takes it with him.

Meat Hook (Ketkrókur): Steals from peasants who left meat outside. He’s very fond of smoked cordeo.

Candle Beggar (Kertasníkir): Dedicated to stealing candles, a much desired object in antiquity.


Although by their names the Yule Lads look like mischievous beings who get into your house and steal your milk and meat or lick your spoons and pots, they also have their good side.

From the 12th of December it descends one by one from the mountains to bring gifts.

Viajar a Islandia

Icelandic children know this is going to happen so they choose their best shoe and leave it by the window.

They are usually small gifts, some details that are celebrated with joy.

There are those who try to trick the Yule Lads by putting a boot to receive bigger gifts, but nobody tricks them and if they find out instead of a gift they will leave you with a rotten potato for misbehaving.

What to see in Iceland

And since we are talking about one of our favorite countries I will recommend you some of the things to see and places to visit in this northern country.

Whales in the North

One of Iceland’s greatest attractions is its nature. And among them is one of its stars: the whales. There are many places where you can do whale watching, but we recommend you some places where you can watch whales in Iceland safely and without disturbing the animals.

Ver ballenas en Islandia


When you are told that you will see one of the most beautiful places in the world when visiting the Snaefellness Peninsula you are not being lied to. It’s a place that squanders beauty and nature. Located only 2 hours from Reykjavik I recommend it because it looks like taken from a fairy tale.

Circular route

If you are going to travel to Iceland and you are going to do it with time I recommend you to rent a vehicle and make the circular route. It’s not a big country and you’ll be glad you can go all over it. If you want to know how to get around it look at this post.


This is the most important waterfall in Iceland. It attracts visitors from all over the world and is not for less because it is one of the largest and most imposing of the country.

Mejor época para viajar a Islandia

If you are traveling in winter you will see that it is one of the few waterfalls in the world that freezes completely.

Don’t miss the Gullfoss waterfall if you travel to Iceland.


It is the second largest city in Iceland. It has 5,000 inhabitants and located in the north of the country is one of the most visited sites.

Que ver y qué hacer en Akureyri

Don’t miss it because you can go on several excursions from there. See more about Akureyri here.