Playing Cards, Icelandic Yule Lads
Playing cards depicting the Icelandic Yule Men, or "Lads" as interpreted by the artist Brian Pilkington. The story behind the Yule Lads, Grýla, Leppalúði and the Yule Cat: Yule is the English translation for the Icelandic word Jól, the original name for the ceremonies and celebrations of the winter solstice. Undoubtedly an important factor in the lives of the pagan settlers, these celebrations enlivened the long, dark and harsh winters. When Iceland was officially proclaimed a Christian nation in the 11th century the celebrations were gradually absorbed into the Christian tradition, and the name Jól continued to be used.Information varies as to the exact origin of the Icelandic Yule Lads and their parents Grýla and Leppalúði - most sources can be traced back to the 17th century. Grýla, their mother, is written about in a thirteenth century manuscript, while the adventures of the lads are described in the “Icelandic Folk-Tales” compiled by Jón Árnason in 1862, as well as “Christmas Poems For Children” by Jóhannes úr Kötlum in 1932. These Yule Lads, who gradually developed into about 13 distinct characters, were at first described as being as vicious as their parents, but over time their behaviour was toned down to comparatively minor infractions such as stealing bits of food, slamming doors and peeping in windows. Grýla, however, remains ever-evil. Although still distinctly Icelandic in their clothing and behaviour, the last century saw the lads taking on more of the qualities of “Father Christmas” or “Santa Claus” as these influences made their way to the Icelandic shores. The merging of the gift-giving custom with the Icelandic Yule Lads has in about the last half century resulted in the tradition of children placing a shoe in their windowsill, starting on the night of December 12th. The Yule Lads come down from their home in the mountains one by one to leave a little gift in the shoes if the children are good - or a potato if they are not! They still indulge in some annoying mischief, but then they leave in the order they came, the last one leaving on the 13th day of Christmas (January 6th). A short description of the brothers: Sheep Worrier tries to suck milk straight from the ewes! Gully Gawk gulps down the creamy froth from milk pails. Shorty loves to eat the scorched leftover bits in pots. Ladle Licker probably gets more splinters than food for his efforts. Pot Licker is gifted with a tongue like steel wool.Bowl Licker lies under the bed in wait of a bowl to lick clean. Door Slammer - there's one in every family...“Skyr” Glutton can eat a whole barrel of this special Icelandic thick yogurt. Sausage Thief nabs any sausages he finds lying about.Window Peeper shocks people with his curiosity and naughty behaviour. Doorway Sniffer sniffs out baked goods to pilfer. Meat Hook jabs and carries off meat with his long, hooked pole.Candle Beggar steals away candles to burn and sometimes even to eat! Design©Brian Pilkington, Text©Sólarfima
Size: 90 mm /3,5 in.