december 11

I feel as though I might be getting off track here but there are times when you are pounding away on work and what you have to report to the world might not be terribly exciting.  To just run down the checklist: yes, I started something new yesterday; yes, it seems to be progressing a bit faster than the last two videos; no, I'm not feeling confident about it; yes, I am somewhat fried on the learning curve; yes, I am aware I can change course at any time but I'm kind of like a dog with a scrap about this now.

In exciting other news about Iceland (no, I did not leave the apartment yesterday), I learned that today, the first 'yule lad' comes down from the mountains to leave a gift in your shoe!  This is the Christmas tradition equivalent to our Santa Claus except there are 13 yule lads, or jólasveinar in icelandic, that are the sons of the trolls Gryla and Leppalí∂i (can I just tell you how long it took to type that?).  

As the story goes, the yule lads come down one by one to leave gifts for good children- and if you're not, they will leave a raw (or rotten, depending on any one of my sources) potato in your shoe.  They aren't the holly jolly Santa Claus that we know in the states.  They are rather mischievous and even sometimes a bit grumpy.  They are known to steal some of their favorite things- such as sausages, skyr, candles, and meat. I come to find many like to lick spoons and pots and bowls and such.  (check out the image I stole from www.iceland.is.... seems fitting I stole it).

icelandic yule lads

icelandic yule lads

 

So over the next 13 nights, children will be placing their shoes at the window to get a small gift.  The gifts are usually small toys, tangerines, gingerbread, or anything else that the yule lad might have picked up in his travels down from the mountain.  The funny thing I read was that parents had used the lads to keep their kids well-behaved during the Christmas season but historically, this somewhat backfired, as children began to fear the lads.  So a public decree went out in 1746 to prohibit parents using monsters to frighten their children.  

In related news, the other day on instagram I screenshot this (I thought it might just be some awesome meme to promote buying clothes):

insta-icelandic

insta-icelandic

Turns out that this is also true Icelandic Christmas folklore.  Gryla, the yule lads mother, is a part troll- part animal ogress.  She comes down from the mountain as well to search for naughty children to eat.  In addition to her 13 precocious boys, she also has a black cat.  The cat also comes down from the mountains and is referred to as the Christmas Cat, or Jólakötturinn.  It is a rule that on Christmas eve, one must receive a new piece of clothing and if they do not, they may be in mortal danger.  The Christmas Cat prowls to find anyone without a new article of clothing to eat them up.  Watch out for black cats on Christmas Eve!  

I, on the other hand, have a small black (and white) cat who eats clothes.

my ferocious cat, Kiki

my ferocious cat, Kiki