Iceland Mag

7 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Culture

December 19: Skyr Gobbler, the eight Yule Lad, comes to town

By Staff

  • Five days to Christmas! As the name implies Skyrgámur will gobble up any skyr left unattended. Photo/Halldór Baldursson

Beginning on December 12 the Yule Lads make their way down from the mountains. One by one the mischievous lads make their way to human settlements where they play pranks on people or cause mischief and mayhem. Every morning one Yule Lads comes down from the mountains, until the entire crowd of trolls has descended upon the farms and towns on Christmas Eve.

Read more: Instead of a friendly Santa Iceland has 13 mischievous Yule lads and an evil Christmas Cat

Today the Yule Lads are best known for giving children treats. Icelandic kids put a shoe in the window for the Yule Lad to leave a present. If you have behaved you can expect a small toy or a sweet: If you have misbehaved the Yule Lad will leave a potato! 

In earlier times, however, the Yule Lads didn't leave gifts: They stole things, primarily the most valuable property of any farmer in the pre-industrial agrarian society: food. Skyr Gobbler not only stole the skyr, he howled ang groaned as he gobbled up more than his stomach could accommodate!

Here is the verse on Skyr Gobbler from the Yule Lad poem:

Skyr Gobbler, the eighth,
was an awful stupid bloke.
He lambasted the skyr tub
till the lid on it broke.
Then he stood there gobbling
- his greed was well known -
until, about to burst,
he would bleat, howl and groan.

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