Some pictures in my Newsletters are not mine. They have been taken off the Net or from other sources and will be removed from here if the right owner claims so.
Grýla and her horrible sons were clearly used by parents to terrify children into submission. In 1746, the following regulation was issued:
"The foolish custom, which has been practised here and there about the country, of scaring children with Yuletide Lads or ghosts, shall be abolished."
During the 19th century the Yuletide Lads gradually improved their image; from child-eating ogres they developed into mischievous thieving oafs. They were generally believed to come down from the mountains before Christmas, although in some coastal areas of the country they were supposed to arrive from the sea.
The number of Grýla's sons varied. An 18th-century verse about Grýla mentions thirteen Yuletide Lads, but the number nine occurs in many verses, such as: "The Yuletide Lads, one and eight / came down from the mountains", still sung by all Icelandic children today.
Each Yuletide Lad had his own name and character. The 19th-century collector of folk-tales Jón Árnason recorded several different versions of Grýla's prankish family, but the version he chose to publish in 1862 consisted of a set of thirteen names:
Stekkjarstaur (Sheepfold-stick), Giljagaur (Gulley-oaf), Stúfur (Shorty), Ţvörusleikir (Spoon-licker), Pottasleikir (Pot-licker), Askasleikir (Bowl-licker), Hurđaskellir (Door-slammer), Skyrgámur (Curdglutton), Bjúgna- krśkir (Sausage-pilferer), Gluggagćgir (Peeping-Tom), Gáttaţefur (Sniffer), Kjötkrókur (Meat-hook) and Kertasníkir (Candlebeggar) became firmly established as the correct names of the Yuletide Lads, once they had appeared in print.
Grýla chasing naughty children.
Drawing 1932 by Tryggvi Magnússon.
A set of verses about the Yuletide Lads by Jóhannes úr Kötlum was published in 1932 and acquired enormus popularity. It was illustrated by Tryggvi Magnússon, who portrayed the Yuletide Lads in old-fashioned Icelandic costume, wearing woollen sweaters or jackets, baggy trousers, thick socks, sheepskin shoes and woolly hats. Rather than wicked pranksters, they are simple country folk who tell children stories, sing to them and bring little gifts — and perhaps pinch a candle or a sausage.
Ref.(mainly, as so often before) Árni Björnsson: "High Days and Holidays in Iceland"