St. Nicholas, Santa Claus and even Grandfather Frost (known as Дед Мороз in Russia) are well known at Yule and Christmastime who reward children who have been well-behaved all year long.
However, there are also quite some scary, wicked, monstrous and mischievous creatures of Yule who punish naughty and misbehaved children and some that just cause mayhem.
Here we’ll look at some well known and favourited monstrous creatures of Yule:
Wicked, Monstrous and Mischievous Creatures of Yule
The interest in Krampus has grown over the last century as more people are reconnecting with pagan roots and customs.
Even modern culture has shown interest in this Yule creature with films, clothing and collectibles.
Krampus originates from the Bavarian and German regions as a half-demon, half-goat creature that is closely connected to St. Nicholas.
Krampusnacht (“Krampus Night” in German) is celebrated on December 5, the eve of St. Nicholas Day which is December 6.
While St. Nicholas rewards well-behaved children on December 6 with gifts and presents, Krampus comes for the misbehaved and naughty children on the night before.
Krampus is known to carry a wicker basket on his back and reeds for whipping children before taking them away to presumably be tortured, leaving the good and nice children behind to be rewarded the next day.
In modern times, Krampusnacht has become a night for people to dress up as Krampus and festivities take place outdoors and indoors to partying, celebration and drinking.
While men customarily dress up in masks and costumes as Krampus, women may often dress up as Frau Perchta who can be connected to Krampus.
Invoking Krampus is said to keep everyone behaved in a household (even annoying neighbours or coworkers!), so when you need to whip someone into behaving, call on Krampus!
If you’re looking to add a touch of Krampus magick to your witchcraft, check out The Witchery’s Krampus products.
Frau Perchta originates from the geographical regions in Europe as Krampus, mostly in Germany, Austria and the Alpines.
She rewards good children with silver coins in pails that are set out for her, while bad children are dismembered and gutted, then refilled with garbage, straw and rocks then sown up again.
Some say that Frau Perchta is connected or a depiction of the Norse goddess Freyja and a nature goddess of the Alpine.
There is also belief that her story and origins are connected to La Befana (Italian) and Baba Yaga (Russian / Eastern European), both witches that can be seen as helpful and kind or wicked and baneful.
The story of Père Fouettard is a bit of a gruesome one that originates from France.
Some stories say that he was an innkeeper while others say that he was a butcher.
In either case, it’s said that he (some say with his wife) robbed and murdered three young boys who appeared to be wealthy and were heading towards a rich boarding school.
Père Fouettard is said then to either have drugged and slit their throats or just murdered them, but some stories say that he then cooked them into a stew.
Soon after, St. Nicholas comes to town and some how finds out about the atrocity and apprehends Père Fouettard.
St. Nicholas manages to resurrect and revive the three young boys and as punishment for Père Fouettard, he must then serve St. Nicholas to make amends.
Père Fouettard (which means Father Whipping) is then in charge of whipping bad children who have misbehaved all year long while St. Nicholas rewards the good children.
Jólasveinarnir / The Yule Lads
Iceland is home to many stories of enchanted creates such as elves and dwarves.
Even to this very day, many Icelanders still believe in elves and dwarves exist in Iceland.
Some people have even witnessed events that can only be attributed to nature elementals.
Christmas / Yule is a time celebrated in Iceland with lots of traditions steeped in history of both Christian (Lutheran) and old pagan customs.
The most well-known of these is Jólasveinarnir or The Yule Lads.
The Yule Lads are the sons of the troll Grýla and her husband Leppalúði.
The Yule Lads are 13 dwarves that arrive one by one starting on December 12 and staying each for 13 days, with the final dwarf leaving on January 6 (Epiphany).
Each Yule Lad has something peculiar about themselves and can be troublesome to annoying, yet they’re said to either leave a gift for children who are nice and rotten potatoes for children who are bad.
To learn more how to pronounce their names in Icelandic, be sure to check out the Icelandic Pronunciation.
The 13 Jólasveinarnir / The Yule Lads are:
Stekkjastaur (Sheep Cote Clod)
Stekkjastaur arrives on December 12 and leaves December 25.
He’s said to harass sheep, but due to his peg legs, he’s not so good at it.
For Iceland that has at least 2 sheep per person in the population of the country, this can be quite troubling to sheep farmers!
Giljagaur (Gully Gawk)
Giljagaur arrives on December 13 and leaves on December 26.
He waits for the chance to steal milk in cowsheds after waiting in gullies (again really annoying to farmers.)
Stúfur arrives on December 14 and leaves on December 27.
He steals crumbs and crust left on pans and is unusually quite short and stubby, hence the name.
Þvörusleikir (Spoon Licker)
Þvörusleikir arrives on December 15 and leaves on December 28.
He steals all your spoons and licks them. Have no spoons around? He‘s the one to blame.
Pottaskefill (Pot Scraper)
Pottaskefill arrives on December 16 and leaves on December 29.
He steals all the leftovers in pots – so be sure to wash your pots and put leftovers away if you don‘t want Pottaskefill to do his work!
Askasleikir (Bowl Licker)
Askasleikir arrives on December 17 and leaves on December 30.
He hides under the bed just waiting for the chance to steal someone‘s “askur” (a type of pot with a lid).
Don’t leave your “askur” unattended or out of sight.
Hurðaskellir (Door Slammer)
Hurðaskellir arrives on December 18 and leaves on December 31.
Just as his name implies, he slams doors in the middle of the night which will wake people up from their slumber.
Skyrgámur (Skyr Gobbler)
Skyrgámur arrives on December 19 and leaves on January 1.
Skyr is a type of Icelandic yogurt (similar to kefir), which Skyrgámur can’t get enough of.
Run out of skyr? It was probably this lad.
Bjúgnakrækir (Sausage Swiper)
Bjúgnakrækir arrives on December 20 and leaves on January 2.
He likes to hide in smokehouses in the rafters to get the chance to steal smoked sausages.
(A word to the wise: traditional Icelandic smoked fish and meats are cured by heating sheep dung!)
Gluggagægir (Window Peeper)
Gluggagægir arrives on December 21 and leaves on January 3.
He‘s not exactly a “Peeping Tom”, but Gluggagægir does want to look into windows to see what he can steal.
Around this time, keep the curtains and blinds closed.
Gáttaþefur (Doorway Sniffer)
Gáttaþefur arrives on December 22 and leaves on January 4.
Laufabrauð (known as “Leaf Bread“) is a popular Icelandic bread that is storebought or fried at home and eaten during the Yule / Christmas holiday season.
Gáttaþefur loves to sniff out the bread by standing by doorways with his unusually large nose.
Ketkrókur (Meat Hook)
Ketkrókur arrives on December 23 and leaves on January 5.
He loves to steal meat by using a hook to snatch it away. Keep meat out of his sight!
Kertasníkir / Candle Stealer
Kertasníkir arrives on December 24 and leaves on January 6.
Who doesn‘t love candles? Candles were often made from animal fats, so Kertasníkir finds those ones especially tasty and loves to steal them all.
Try vegan candles to deter him from stealing yours.
And last but not least of these Yule creatures:
Jólakötturinn / The Yule Cat
The Yule Cat is said to belong to Grýla and Leppalúði, the parents of the Yule Lads.
The giant black cat is tall as the tallest building in Iceland (which is Hallgrímskirkja which stands the height of 74.5 metres.)
It has become customary for most people to receive new clothes at Christmas (yes, socks!), but in Iceland, if children didn’t receive new clothing for Christmas then the Yule Cat would come to eat the children!
In 1987, Björk Guðmundsdóttir (commonly known only as Björk) recorded and sang a song about the Yule Cat / Jólakötturinn in Icelandic – check out the Youtube video for the audio only.
Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season!
Stacey & the Tarot Pugs
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