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Blutwölfin
Thursday, December 15th, 2005, 10:14 AM
Jólasveinar first appear in the 17th century as the sons of Grýla and Leppalúđi, who had appeared in the 13th century, and had a reputation for stealing and eating naughty children.

The Jólasveinar were counted as numbering either nine or thirteen, but their names are at least 70.

Thirteen of the most commonly accepted names of the Jólasveinar are:

Stekkjastaur - Enclosure Post
Giljagaur - Crevice Imp
Stúfur - Itty Bitty
Ţvörusleikir - Pot Scraper Licker
Pottasleikir - Pot Licker
Askasleikir - Bowl Licker
Hurđaskellir - Door Slammer
Skyrgámur - Skyr Gobbler
(Skyr, an Icelandic yoghurt)
Bjúgnakrćkir - Sausage Snatcher
Gluggagćgir - Window Peeper
Gáttaţefur - Doorway Sniffer
Ketkrókur - Meat Hooker
Kertasníkir - Candle Beggar

A few of the other names used for the Jólasveinar follow, as they are descriptive of their natures, with an English translation:

Baggi - Bundle
Bandaleysir - Strap Loosener
Bjálfansbarniđ - Idiot Child
Flotgleypir - Fat Gobbler
Hlöđustrangi - Barn Roll
Kleinusníkir - Donut Beggar
Lampaskuggi - Lamp Shadow
Móamangi - Moor Charlie
Reykjasvelgur - Smoke Gulper
Smjörhákur - Butter Greedy
Svartiljótur - Blackugly
Svellabrjótur - Icebreaker

As can be seen from the names the Jólasveinar are thought of as playful imps, whose main interest seems to be to get their hands on some of the seasonal food and other goodies. Or they are lurking about trying to do some minor mischief.

When they first appeared the Jólasveinar had many of the attributes of their parents, but soon started to seem milder, and in the last century gained some of the attributes of their Nordic counterparts, and in this century they have become homegrown versions of St. Nick or Santa Clauses.

The Jólasveinar live in the mountains, and start to arrive in town, one a day, thirteen days before Christmas Eve, the last one arriving that morning. They leave little presents for the children in shoes that the children have put on the window sill the night before. Or, if the children have been naughty, they leave a potato, or some reminder that good behaviour is better. Then they start departing for home again on Christmas Day, and the last one departs on Ţrettándinn.

At first the clothing of the Jólasveinar was just the ordinary every-day wear of the common Icelander, but in this century they have taken to wearing the traditional red suits of St. Nick or Santa Claus. In the last few years there has been a revival of the old style clothing.

Grýla and Leppalúđi

This couple of child-eating, bloodthirsty ogres are the supposed parents of the Jólasveinar. The dominant member in the relationship is Grýla, who according to some sources had another husband before Leppalúđi. His name was Boli. Boli, and later Leppalúđi, were bedridden and Grýla went around the countryside, begging to support her husbands, and at Christmas time, she stole children that had been naughty during the year. Through the centuries Grýla has been a very popular means of making children behave. There are numerous lays and stories about Grýla and her exploits, but she really never gets her hands on any children, either they have been very well behaved through the year, or they manage to escape.


Source (http://www.simnet.is/gardarj/folk/jola.htm)

Lundi
Friday, December 16th, 2005, 10:55 AM
Then there is also the family cat of course, Jólakötturinn (The Yule cat), who is a very large black cat that just before jól comes into towns and eats everyone who doesn’t get new cloths for the jól season. ;)

Blutwölfin
Sunday, December 18th, 2005, 12:47 AM
This tradition, the Yule Cat, is based on the work with the wool which was shorn in Autumn, and which had to be finished before Yule, right? Everyone who finished his job with the wool was able to get a new piece of clothing, everyone who was lazy didn't get anything. The Yule Cat had the task to make people afraid and actually work hard to finish their job in time.

Lundi
Monday, December 19th, 2005, 11:24 AM
Yes, that’s how the story goes :), but like I said earlier, the cat ate those who didn’t get a new piece of clothing before Yule night, and in those days those who helped to finish the autumn wool before Yule got a piece of clothing for their hard work, so originally the story must have been born in the rural areas in order to get people to help out to finish the wool. But as time went on the story spread into the townships and the Reykjavík area, where people often gave each other new pieces of clothing before Yule so the Yule Cat wouldn’t get their friends or family.

Jóhannes úr Kötlum wrote a very nice poem about the Yule Cat but I don’t have the text here in front of me to translate it and nor do I know the whole thing off by heart :frown:

Lundi
Monday, December 19th, 2005, 11:34 AM
O wow the joy of the internet, I found the poem in English for you :)


You all know the Yule Cat
And that Cat was huge indeed.
People didn't know where he came from
Or where he went.

He opened his glaring eyes wide,
The two of them glowing bright.
It took a really brave man
To look straight into them.

His whiskers, sharp as bristles,
His back arched up high.
And the claws of his hairy paws
Were a terrible sight.

He gave a wave of his strong tail,
He jumped and he clawed and he hissed.
Sometimes up in the valley,
Sometimes down by the shore.

He roamed at large, hungry and evil
In the freezing Yule snow.
In every home
People shuddered at his name.

If one heard a pitiful "meow"
Something evil would happen soon.
Everybody knew he hunted men
But didn't care for mice.

He picked on the very poor
That no new garments got
For Yule - who toiled
And lived in dire need.

From them he took in one fell swoop
Their whole Yule dinner
Always eating it himself
If he possibly could.

Hence it was that the women
At their spinning wheels sat
Spinning a colorful thread
For a frock or a little sock.

Because you mustn't let the Cat
Get hold of the little children.
They had to get something new to wear
From the grownups each year.

And when the lights came on, on Yule Eve
And the Cat peered in,
The little children stood rosy and proud
All dressed up in their new clothes.

Some had gotten an apron
And some had gotten shoes
Or something that was needed
- That was all it took.

For all who got something new to wear
Stayed out of that pussy-cat's grasp
He then gave an awful hiss
But went on his way.

Whether he still exists I do not know.
But his visit would be in vain
If next time everybody
Got something new to wear.

Now you might be thinking of helping
Where help is needed most.
Perhaps you'll find some children
That have nothing at all.

Perhaps searching for those
That live in a lightless world
Will give you a happy day
And a Merry, Merry Yule.

Blutwölfin
Monday, December 19th, 2005, 11:34 AM
You mean this one?

Segja vil ég sögu
af sveinunum ţeim,
sem brugđu sér hér forđum
á bćina heim.

Ţeir uppi á fjöllum sáust,
- eins og margur veit, -
í langri halarófu
á leiđ niđur í sveit.

Grýla var ţeirra móđir
og gaf ţeim tröllamjólk,
en pabbinn Leppalúđi,
- ţađ var leiđindafólk.

Ţeir jólasveinar nefndust,
- um jólin birtust ţeir.
Og einn og einn ţeir komu,
en aldrei tveir og tveir.

Ţeir voru ţrettán
ţessir heiđursmenn,
sem ekki vildu ónáđa
allir í senn.

Ađ dyrunum ţeir lćddust
og drógu lokuna úr.
Og einna helzt ţeir leituđu
í eldhús og búr.

Lćvísir á svipinn
ţeir leyndust hér og ţar,
til óknyttanna vísir,
ef enginn nćrri var.

Og eins, ţó einhver sći,
var ekki hikađ viđ
ađ hrekkja fólk - og trufla
ţess heimilisfriđ.

Stekkjastaur kom fyrstur,
stinnur eins og tré.
Hann laumađist í fjárhúsin
og lék á bóndans fé.

Hann vildi sjúga ćrnar,
- ţá var ţeim ekki um sel,
ţví greyiđ hafđi staurfćtur,
- ţađ gekk nú ekki vel.

Giljagaur var annar,
međ gráa hausinn sinn.
- Hann skreiđ ofan úr gili
og skauzt í fjósiđ inn.

Hann faldi sig í básunum
og frođunni stal,
međan fjósakonan átti
viđ fjósamanninn tal.

Stúfur hét sá ţriđji
stubburinn sá.
Hann krćkti sér í pönnu,
ţegar kostur var á.

Hann hljóp međ hana í burtu
og hirti agnirnar,
sem brunnu stundum fastar
viđ barminn hér og ţar.

Sá fjórđi, Ţvörusleikir,
var fjarskalega mjór.
Og ósköp varđ hann glađur,
ţegar eldabuskan fór.

Ţá ţaut hann eins og elding
og ţvöruna greip,
og hélt međ báđum höndum,
ţví hún var stundum sleip.

Sá fimmti, Pottaskefill,
var skrítiđ kuldastrá.
- Ţegar börnin fengu skófir
hann barđi dyrnar á.

Ţau ruku' upp, til ađ gá ađ
hvort gestur vćri á ferđ.
Ţá flýtti' ann sér ađ pottinum
og fékk sér góđan verđ.

Sá sjötti, Askasleikir,
var alveg dćmalaus. -
Hann fram undan rúmunum
rak sinn ljóta haus.

Ţegar fólkiđ setti askana
fyrir kött og hund,
hann slunginn var ađ ná ţeim
og sleikja á ýmsa lund.

Sjöundi var Hurđaskellir,
- sá var nokkuđ klúr,
ef fólkiđ vildi í rökkrinu
fá sér vćnan dúr.

Hann var ekki sérlega
hnugginn yfir ţví,
ţó harkalega marrađi
hjörunum í.

Skyrjarmur, sá áttundi,
var skelfilegt naut.
Hann hlemminn o´n af sánum
međ hnefanum braut.

Svo hámađi hann í sig
og yfir matnum gein,
unz stóđ hann á blístri
og stundi og hrein.

Níundi var Bjúgnakrćkir,
brögđóttur og snar.
Hann hentist upp í rjáfrin
og hnuplađi ţar.

Á eldhúsbita sat hann
í sóti og reyk
og át ţar hangiđ bjúga,
sem engan sveik.

Tíundi var Gluggagćgir,
grályndur mann,
sem laumađist á skjáinn
og leit inn um hann.

Ef eitthvađ var ţar inni
álitlegt ađ sjá,
hann oftast nćr seinna
í ţađ reyndi ađ ná.

Ellefti var Gáttaţefur,
- aldrei fékk sá kvef,
og hafđi ţó svo hlálegt
og heljarstórt nef.

Hann ilm af laufabrauđi
upp á heiđar fann,
og léttur, eins og reykur,
á lyktina rann.

Ketkrókur, sá tólfti,
kunni á ýmsu lag. -
Hann ţrammađi í sveitina
á Ţorláksmessudag.

Hann krćkti sér í tutlu,
ţegar kostur var á.
En stundum reyndist stuttur
stauturinn hans ţá.

Ţrettándi var Kertasníkir,
- ţá var tíđin köld,
ef ekki kom hann síđastur
á ađfangadagskvöld.

Hann elti litlu börnin
sem brostu, glöđ og fín,
og trítluđu um bćinn
međ tólgarkertin sín.

Á sjálfa jólanóttina,
- sagan hermir frá, -
á strák sínum ţeir sátu
og störđu ljósin á.

Svo tíndust ţeir í burtu,
- ţađ tók ţá frost og snjór.
Á ţrettándanum síđasti
sveinstaulinn fór.

Fyrir löngu á fjöllunum
er fennt í ţeirra slóđ.
- En minningarnar breytast
í myndir og ljóđ.




Let me tell the story
of the lads of few charms,
who once upon a time
used to visit our farms.

They came from the mountains,
as many of you know,
in a long single file
to the farmsteads below.

Grýla was their mother
- she gave them ogre milk -
and the father Leppalúdi;
a loathsome ilk.

They were called the Yuletide lads
- at Yuletide they were due -
and always came one by one,
not ever two by two.

Thirteen altogether,
these gents in their prime
didn´t want to irk people
all at one time.

Creeping up, all stealth,
they unlocked the door.
The kitchen and the pantry
they came looking for.

They hid where they could,
with a cunning look or sneer,
ready with their pranks
when people weren´t near.

And even when they were seen,
they weren´t loath to roam
and play their tricks - disturbing
the peace of the home.

The first of them was Sheep-Cote Clod.
He came stiff as wood,
to pray upon the farmer´s sheep
as far as he could.

He wished to suck the ewes,
but it was no accident
he couldn´t; he had stiff knees
- not to convenient.

The second was Gully Gawk,
gray his head and mien.
He snuck into the cow barn
from his craggy ravine.

Hiding in the stalls,
he would steal the milk, while
the milkmaid gave the cowherd
a meaningful smile.

Stubby was the third called,
a stunted little man,
who watched for every chance
to whisk off a pan.

And scurrying away with it,
he scraped off the bits
that stuck to the bottom
and brims - his favorites.

The fourth was Spoon Licker;
like spindle he was thin.
He felt himself in clover
when the cook wasn´t in.

Then stepping up, he grappled
the stirring spoon with glee,
holding it with both hands
for it was slippery.

Pot Scraper, the fifth one,
was a funny sort of chap.
When kids were given scrapings,
he´d come to the door and tap.

And they would rush to see
if there really was a guest.
Then he hurried to the pot
and had a scrapingfest.

Bowl Licker, the sixth one,
was shockingly ill bred.
From underneath the bedsteads
he stuck his ugly head.

And when the bowls were left
to be licked by dog or cat,
he snatched them for himself
- he was sure good at that!

The seventh was Door Slammer,
a sorry, vulgar chap:
When people in the twilight
would take a little nap,

he was happy as a lark
with the havoc he could wreak,
slamming doors and hearing
the hinges on them sqeak.

Skyr Gobbler, the eighth,
was an awful stupid bloke.
He lambasted the skyr tub
till the lid on it broke.

Then he stood there gobbling
- his greed was well known -
until, about to burst,
he would bleat, howl and groan.

The ninth was Sausage Swiper,
a shifty pilferer.
He climbed up to the rafters
and raided food from there.

Sitting on a crossbeam
in soot and in smoke,
he fed himself on sausage
fit for gentlefolk.

The tenth was Window Peeper,
a weird little twit,
who stepped up to the window
and stole a peek through it.

And whatever was inside
to which his eye was drawn,
he most likely attempted
to take later on.

Eleventh was Door Sniffer,
a doltish lad and gross.
He never got a cold, yet had
a huge, sensitive nose.

He caught the scent of lace bread
while leagues away still
and ran toward it weightless
as wind over dale and hill.

Meat Hook, the twelfth one,
his talent would display
as soon as he arrived
on Saint Thorburnlak´s Day.

He snagged himself a morsel
of meet of any sort,
although his hook at times was
a tiny bit short.

The thirteenth was Candle Beggar
- ´twas cold, I believe,
if he was not the last
of the lot on Christmas Eve.

He trailed after the little ones
who, like happy sprites,
ran about the farm with
their fine tallow lights.

On Christmas night itself
- so a wise man writes
- the lads were all restraint
and just stared at the lights.

Then one by one they trotted off
into the frost and snow.
On Twelfth Night the last
of the lads used to go.

Their footprints in the highlands
are effaced now for long,
the memories have all turned
to image and song.

Blutwölfin
Monday, December 19th, 2005, 11:37 AM
Jóhannes úr Kötlum
Jólasveinarnir

Segja vil ég sögu
af sveinunum ţeim,
sem brugđu sér hér forđum
á bćina heim.

Ţeir uppi á fjöllum sáust,
- eins og margur veit, -
í langri halarófu
á leiđ niđur í sveit.

Grýla var ţeirra móđir
og gaf ţeim tröllamjólk,
en pabbinn Leppalúđi,
- ţađ var leiđindafólk.

Ţeir jólasveinar nefndust,
- um jólin birtust ţeir.
Og einn og einn ţeir komu,
en aldrei tveir og tveir.

Ţeir voru ţrettán
ţessir heiđursmenn,
sem ekki vildu ónáđa
allir í senn.

Ađ dyrunum ţeir lćddust
og drógu lokuna úr.
Og einna helzt ţeir leituđu
í eldhús og búr.

Lćvísir á svipinn
ţeir leyndust hér og ţar,
til óknyttanna vísir,
ef enginn nćrri var.

Og eins, ţó einhver sći,
var ekki hikađ viđ
ađ hrekkja fólk - og trufla
ţess heimilisfriđ.

Stekkjastaur kom fyrstur,
stinnur eins og tré.
Hann laumađist í fjárhúsin
og lék á bóndans fé.

Hann vildi sjúga ćrnar,
- ţá var ţeim ekki um sel,
ţví greyiđ hafđi staurfćtur,
- ţađ gekk nú ekki vel.

Giljagaur var annar,
međ gráa hausinn sinn.
- Hann skreiđ ofan úr gili
og skauzt í fjósiđ inn.

Hann faldi sig í básunum
og frođunni stal,
međan fjósakonan átti
viđ fjósamanninn tal.

Stúfur hét sá ţriđji
stubburinn sá.
Hann krćkti sér í pönnu,
ţegar kostur var á.

Hann hljóp međ hana í burtu
og hirti agnirnar,
sem brunnu stundum fastar
viđ barminn hér og ţar.

Sá fjórđi, Ţvörusleikir,
var fjarskalega mjór.
Og ósköp varđ hann glađur,
ţegar eldabuskan fór.

Ţá ţaut hann eins og elding
og ţvöruna greip,
og hélt međ báđum höndum,
ţví hún var stundum sleip.

Sá fimmti, Pottaskefill,
var skrítiđ kuldastrá.
- Ţegar börnin fengu skófir
hann barđi dyrnar á.

Ţau ruku' upp, til ađ gá ađ
hvort gestur vćri á ferđ.
Ţá flýtti' ann sér ađ pottinum
og fékk sér góđan verđ.

Sá sjötti, Askasleikir,
var alveg dćmalaus. -
Hann fram undan rúmunum
rak sinn ljóta haus.

Ţegar fólkiđ setti askana
fyrir kött og hund,
hann slunginn var ađ ná ţeim
og sleikja á ýmsa lund.

Sjöundi var Hurđaskellir,
- sá var nokkuđ klúr,
ef fólkiđ vildi í rökkrinu
fá sér vćnan dúr.

Hann var ekki sérlega
hnugginn yfir ţví,
ţó harkalega marrađi
hjörunum í.

Skyrjarmur, sá áttundi,
var skelfilegt naut.
Hann hlemminn o´n af sánum
međ hnefanum braut.

Svo hámađi hann í sig
og yfir matnum gein,
unz stóđ hann á blístri
og stundi og hrein.

Níundi var Bjúgnakrćkir,
brögđóttur og snar.
Hann hentist upp í rjáfrin
og hnuplađi ţar.

Á eldhúsbita sat hann
í sóti og reyk
og át ţar hangiđ bjúga,
sem engan sveik.

Tíundi var Gluggagćgir,
grályndur mann,
sem laumađist á skjáinn
og leit inn um hann.

Ef eitthvađ var ţar inni
álitlegt ađ sjá,
hann oftast nćr seinna
í ţađ reyndi ađ ná.

Ellefti var Gáttaţefur,
- aldrei fékk sá kvef,
og hafđi ţó svo hlálegt
og heljarstórt nef.

Hann ilm af laufabrauđi
upp á heiđar fann,
og léttur, eins og reykur,
á lyktina rann.

Ketkrókur, sá tólfti,
kunni á ýmsu lag. -
Hann ţrammađi í sveitina
á Ţorláksmessudag.

Hann krćkti sér í tutlu,
ţegar kostur var á.
En stundum reyndist stuttur
stauturinn hans ţá.

Ţrettándi var Kertasníkir,
- ţá var tíđin köld,
ef ekki kom hann síđastur
á ađfangadagskvöld.

Hann elti litlu börnin
sem brostu, glöđ og fín,
og trítluđu um bćinn
međ tólgarkertin sín.

Á sjálfa jólanóttina,
- sagan hermir frá, -
á strák sínum ţeir sátu
og störđu ljósin á.

Svo tíndust ţeir í burtu,
- ţađ tók ţá frost og snjór.
Á ţrettándanum síđasti
sveinstaulinn fór.

Fyrir löngu á fjöllunum
er fennt í ţeirra slóđ.
- En minningarnar breytast
í myndir og ljóđ.


Translation

Let me tell the story
of the lads of few charms,
who once upon a time
used to visit our farms.

They came from the mountains,
as many of you know,
in a long single file
to the farmsteads below.

Grýla was their mother
- she gave them ogre milk -
and the father Leppalúdi;
a loathsome ilk.

They were called the Yuletide lads
- at Yuletide they were due -
and always came one by one,
not ever two by two.

Thirteen altogether,
these gents in their prime
didn´t want to irk people
all at one time.

Creeping up, all stealth,
they unlocked the door.
The kitchen and the pantry
they came looking for.

They hid where they could,
with a cunning look or sneer,
ready with their pranks
when people weren´t near.

And even when they were seen,
they weren´t loath to roam
and play their tricks - disturbing
the peace of the home.

The first of them was Sheep-Cote Clod.
He came stiff as wood,
to pray upon the farmer´s sheep
as far as he could.

He wished to suck the ewes,
but it was no accident
he couldn´t; he had stiff knees
- not to convenient.

The second was Gully Gawk,
gray his head and mien.
He snuck into the cow barn
from his craggy ravine.

Hiding in the stalls,
he would steal the milk, while
the milkmaid gave the cowherd
a meaningful smile.

Stubby was the third called,
a stunted little man,
who watched for every chance
to whisk off a pan.

And scurrying away with it,
he scraped off the bits
that stuck to the bottom
and brims - his favorites.

The fourth was Spoon Licker;
like spindle he was thin.
He felt himself in clover
when the cook wasn´t in.

Then stepping up, he grappled
the stirring spoon with glee,
holding it with both hands
for it was slippery.

Pot Scraper, the fifth one,
was a funny sort of chap.
When kids were given scrapings,
he´d come to the door and tap.

And they would rush to see
if there really was a guest.
Then he hurried to the pot
and had a scrapingfest.

Bowl Licker, the sixth one,
was shockingly ill bred.
From underneath the bedsteads
he stuck his ugly head.

And when the bowls were left
to be licked by dog or cat,
he snatched them for himself
- he was sure good at that!

The seventh was Door Slammer,
a sorry, vulgar chap:
When people in the twilight
would take a little nap,

he was happy as a lark
with the havoc he could wreak,
slamming doors and hearing
the hinges on them sqeak.

Skyr Gobbler, the eighth,
was an awful stupid bloke.
He lambasted the skyr tub
till the lid on it broke.

Then he stood there gobbling
- his greed was well known -
until, about to burst,
he would bleat, howl and groan.

The ninth was Sausage Swiper,
a shifty pilferer.
He climbed up to the rafters
and raided food from there.

Sitting on a crossbeam
in soot and in smoke,
he fed himself on sausage
fit for gentlefolk.

The tenth was Window Peeper,
a weird little twit,
who stepped up to the window
and stole a peek through it.

And whatever was inside
to which his eye was drawn,
he most likely attempted
to take later on.

Eleventh was Door Sniffer,
a doltish lad and gross.
He never got a cold, yet had
a huge, sensitive nose.

He caught the scent of lace bread
while leagues away still
and ran toward it weightless
as wind over dale and hill.

Meat Hook, the twelfth one,
his talent would display
as soon as he arrived
on Saint Thorlak´s Day.

He snagged himself a morsel
of meet of any sort,
although his hook at times was
a tiny bit short.

The thirteenth was Candle Beggar
- ´twas cold, I believe,
if he was not the last
of the lot on Christmas Eve.

He trailed after the little ones
who, like happy sprites,
ran about the farm with
their fine tallow lights.

On Christmas night itself
- so a wise man writes
- the lads were all restraint
and just stared at the lights.

Then one by one they trotted off
into the frost and snow.
On Twelfth Night the last
of the lads used to go.

Their footprints in the highlands
are effaced now for long,
the memories have all turned
to image and song.

Lundi
Monday, December 19th, 2005, 11:51 AM
No that’s about the Jólasveinarnir, I posted the poem just before you posted this reply, so you must have missed it

Blutwölfin
Monday, December 19th, 2005, 11:54 AM
Maybe this was because it took ages until I was able to post... :frown: