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Christmas, Grýla and what comes with it ...

Christmas has long been a light in the blackest short day in the Arctic. The dark winter days were accompanied by lethargy and sluggishness.


The superstitions and fears of people who were constantly reminded of the existence of mysteries were briefly expressed  and a threatening sexual being that no one wanted to meet.


In Iceland, Christmas has been celebrated since the settlement, close to the winter solstice when the sun set its course 
higher in the sky with brighter times ahead.


The stories tell of great feasts of rulers who asked neither food nor word of mouth. There is less going on for the little ones' Christmas celebrations in the Middle Ages, and it is certain that it has proven to be less difficult for the less affluent people.  

Centuries passed and changes in Icelandic national life were slow and sparse, including Christmas celebrations.  The sexual beings of Christmas and New Year ignited a short-lived or long-lasting existence in the minds of superstitious Icelanders.


The famous Grýla carries his head and shoulders over other mischief.
It is mentioned in Snorri Edda and in Sturla Þórðarson's Íslandingasaga
where known
  verse breaks testify to:

This is where Grýla goes
in the yard above
and has on itself
tail fifteen.


Grýla, however, was not asked at Christmas until the upper part of the 16th century, cf.

Grýla rode in the yard above
had a tail of fifteen
but in each tail a hundred pods
but in a pod hvoum children twenty.

A priest in Skagafjörður calculated that the flag would draw 30,000 children.



Grýla thus played a major role when it came to raising children. She was named after three thrushes and Leppalúði is the best known of them. They had a generation of offspring and the best known of them were and are Santa Claus.

They plowed with their mother and were often quoted
if children were struggling.















It was not until the 19th century that the reputation of the infamous boys began to wane. Their number was long roaming, either one and eight or thirteen.
Sources tell of 18 boys in Biskupstungur in the second decade of the last century.


The well-known ethnographer Árni Björnsson publishes in his book Saga daganna no more and no less than 77 known names of Santa Claus and maidens.

Many of these names are very informative readings and call for the utmost power of the imagination to dissect them to the core.


Árni has told us Bakkastofubúir, who are particularly interested in the old boys,  that even today there are new names for Santa Claus  to pop up.

It does not yet see the end
  on the genome  of Grýla and Leppalúðir and now part of the family is hanging on 20 specially chosen light poles here in Eyrarbakki.




1.      Baggalútur                   Snæfjallaströnd

2.      Grýla                             Árneshreppur in Strandir

3.      Leppalúði


4.      Float socks                      Dýrafjörður


5.      Flowering games                      Mývatnssveit


6.      Barn string          Mývatnssveit


7.      Swell breaker                Under the Eyjafjöll mountains


8.      Kleinusníkir                   Vopnafjörður / Dalasýsla  


9.      Lute                             River in Skagafjörður  


10.  Spout                            Steingrímsfjörður     Small and fat


11.  Thunderbolts              Vopnafjörður / Eyjafjörður


12.  Coercive games


13.   Cloud arm


14.   Tífall                            Steingrímsfjörður


15.   Reykjasvelgur              Barðastrandarsýsla


16.   Float absorber                    Local team in Snæfellsnes


17.   Faldafeykir                    Darkness in Hörgárdalur


18.   Lung patches               Mývatnssveit

19.   Bjálminn

20.   Cat selection                     Came from the sea / Eastfjords

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