The 13 Yuletide Lads and their Monster Mum
Icelandic children count down the days to Christmas with a much older, darker and fun tradition than the multinational Santa Claus. In Iceland, there are 13 Yuletide Lads who come to town from the nearest local mountain, one a day until December 23. Each is named after a particular prank he always plays Sausage Snatcher, Door Slammer, Candle Swiper, Pot Licker, etc. and at bedtime children put a shoe in the window where the Yuletide Lad of the day is supposed to leave a small present. The 13 pranksters’ mother is Gryla, an ogress who lives on a diet of boiled naughty children, and their father is the layabout Leppaluði. People who do not receive any new clothes as a Christmas present, incidentally, do not need to worry about being seen in public afterwards folklore tradition says they are eaten by a giant cat.