Iceland Mag

7 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Culture

Stubby, breaks into homes to steal leftovers is the third Yule Lad to come to town

By Staff

Every day from December 12 until December 24, one of the thirteen Yule Lads comes to town. In previous times these strange Christmas spirits wreaked havoc at farmsteads, causing nuisance or stealing food, but in modern times they have borrowed a page out of the book of St Nicholas and instead leave little treats for well-behaved children. 

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

Each night, beginning on December 11 Icelandic children therefore leave a shoe on the window sill for the Yule Lads. If you have been well behaved you can expect a sweet or a small present. Most Yule Lads try to keep the value of these presents within reason: Every year daycare centers and schools sent out a stern message to all Yule Lads out there not to go overboard in the gift-giving. Iphones are an absolute no-no.

There is absolute equity when it comes to the naughty kids: If you misbehave and refuse to obey your parents you can expect to wake up to find a potato in your shoe!

Read more: The scoundrel Gully Gawk, second of thirteen Yule Lads came to town this morning

The thirteen brothers all have descriptive names reflecting either their nature or the prank they used to play on farmers, back in the day. The first of the thirteen brothers, Stekkjastaur ("Sheep-Cote Clod") arrived on December 12. The second, Giljagaur "Gully Gawk", arrived yesterday. Today, December 14 Stúfur, or Stubby, comes to town.

As the name indicates Stúfur is abnormally short. He used to steal pans from the kitchen to eat the crust left on them. Here is how Stubby is described in the 1932 Yule Lad poem by Jóhannes úr Kötlum:

Stubby was the third called,
a stunted little man,
who watched for every chance
to whisk off a pan.
And scurrying away with it,
he scraped off the bits
that stuck to the bottom
and brims - his favorites.

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