Ah, Christmas. When visions of sugar plums dance in our heads, and it’s all about peace on earth and goodwill.
Or is it?
Thanks to a rash of recent horror movies and books, you’ve no doubt heard of Krampus, Santa’s horned cohort who punishes the bad kids. But have you heard of the Yule Lads and the dreaded Yule Cat?
The thirteen Yule Lads (of course there are thirteen of the little bastards) appear in our midst during the last thirteen days before Christmas (there’s that number again). Some are mischievous and some are a huge pain in the keister.
How do you know you’ve been targeted by a Yule Lad? Here are some signs you may have an infestation.
- Have your leftovers mysteriously gone missing? Blame Pottaskefill, who steals them.
- Have your spoons been licked? That’s the fault of Þvörusleikir, who takes care of all those cookie batter-caked utensils.
- Have your sausages been swiped? That’s a true sign of a Yule Lad in action. Bjúgnakrækir hides in the rafters and steals sausages that have been smoked.
- Feel like you’re being watched? It’s Gluggagægir, the window peeper, who looks into your home in search of things to steal.
- And finally, beware of Ketkrókur, who will wander your home with a meat hook to steal your Christmas turkey or ham.
These things may seem fairly innocent (or the work of children and pets), but a guy peeking through my windows with a huge meat hook would freak me out a bit–just sayin’.
As bad as these little trolls are, they’re nothing compared to the Yule Cat, a gigantic kitty that lurks outside during the Christmas season and eats people who haven’t received any new clothes to wear before Christmas Eve. Ouch! Perhaps there’s a practical use for that ugly Christmas sweater. Or, may I suggest a Christmas suit?
Just to be on the safe side, stay in on the night of the 24th.
As you may have guessed from some of the names, these are all Icelandic legends, so you may think you’ll be fine if you’re not Icelandic.
But then again, why take chances?
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and best of the holidays to you, no matter what you celebrate! Do you have any fun (or creepy) holiday legends or traditions to share? I’d love to hear them. And if you’re Icelandic, I wish you the best of luck!
Photo credit for this awesome Yule Cat photo goes to Diademgrove.
If you’d like to read a fun horror novella featuring the Yule Lads and Yule Cat, J.G. Faherty’s Winterwood is excellent. I gave it five stars. It’s available on its own as an ebook, or in a trade-paper collection that includes my own novella, The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave. That’s how I discovered it, but it’s not why I love it–it’s just an awesome story.