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An early shoe-in to Christmas for Icelanders

If you’ve been good these past months, you are probably looking forward to Santa slipping down the chimney and leaving a little something for you under the tree, but how’s this for a bit of Scandi-cool, taking the festive traditions one step further?

In Iceland children have not one night, but 13 to be excited (or worried). Placing a shoe on their windowsill before they drift off to sleep, they hope for a visit from one of 13 ‘Yule Lads’ – creatures who deposit sweets in their footwear – or rotten potatoes if they’ve been bad!

Thankfully, the Yule Lads have evolved from the terrifying ‘child-eating’ trolls of 17th century folklore into something more fun for children to enjoy in modern times. They are still imagined as ugly and mischievous – they steal food and leftovers – but since the 1960s have morphed into something far more in keeping with the traditional happy Santa of Western Europe. Fortunately, the Yule Lads still keep excited children occupied for 13 nights, making the most of the build up to the big event. If you’re visiting Iceland this yuletide, take a large shoe with you - but only if you’ve been good!

Yule lads image: Yule Lads - jólasveinar
Shoe image: Tumblr