Naughty Or Nice, Icelandic Style - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Naughty Or Nice, Icelandic Style

Naughty Or Nice, Icelandic Style

Published December 11, 2013

Gabríel Benjamin
Photos by
Inga María Brynjarsdóttir

For Icelandic children, the twelfth of December holds special significance as it marks the first visit of the thirteen Yule Lads. One by one they make their visit, with the final one making his appearance on Christmas Eve.

Formerly known as sinister tricksters who made their way from monstrous homes to plague children by slamming doors, stealing food and candles, and peeking through windows, they have grown nicer and more gift-oriented over the years.

As a nation unaccustomed to chimneys and unwilling to hang up perfectly good apparel, Icelanders instead leave shoes in their bedroom windows for the Yule Lads. Those deemed nice are rewarded with a small treat, but those judged naughty get a raw potato. Yes, that’s right, a potato. Not coal, but a nutritious and perfectly edible potato.

At the munchkin age of five, I sought to test exactly how judgmental the Yule Lads were. I didn’t listen to what my mother asked me to do, refused to go to bed on time, and was by all accounts a misbehaving brat. To my mother’s surprise, the following morning I wasn’t upset at finding a potato in my shoe, but asked her joyfully if I could cook and eat it for breakfast.

See Also:

The Encyclopaedia of Icelandic Holidays

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!

Go travel with Grapevine tried and recommended tours by Grapevine. Fund Grapevine journalism by booking with us.


Magazine-articles
Articles
Perfect Day: Ágúst Bent Jensson

Perfect Day: Ágúst Bent Jensson

by

Magazine-articles
Articles
Just Sayings: Að Tefla Við Páfann

Just Sayings: Að Tefla Við Páfann

by

Show Me More!