As the legend goes, these so-called Yule Lads — who bear whimsical names like Stubby, Pot Licker and Window Peeper — come down from the mountains one by one on each of the 13 days leading to Christmas, teasing, stealing, slamming doors and generally striking terror in the hearts of the Icelandic population.
What’s worse, if Icelandic children are naughty, the Yule Lads will carry them back in sacks to be eaten by Gryla, while those who do not wear a new article of clothing on Christmas Eve are fed to Gryla’s Christmas cat, a menacing black feline named Jolakottur.
“This is no joke here,” said Olof Atladottir, director general of the Icelandic Tourist Board. “My daughter gets very scared that Gryla might come at this time of year.”
Even adults are not free of Christmas night terrors, on Christmas eve animals can talk and if you happen to have the misfortune of hearing them talking then you will go mad. Forever mad. Scary stuff when you think about it. Paganism was never squashed by Christianity in Iceland and these old pagan stories did not only survive they live all on.