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Iceland Mag

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December 15: Spoon licker, the fourth Yule Lad comes to town

By Staff

  • Þvörusleikir This is how the popular cartoonist Halldór Bjarnason imagines the fourth Yule Lad. Photo/Halldór Bjarnason

The Yule lads (Jólasveinar) are trolls who live far away from humans high in the mountains or highlands, but come to visit to town in December. The total number of the Yule lads varies in old stories, but in the 19th and early 20th century the tradition of 13 lads became universal.

Rather than rushing to town as a group the Yule Lads travel alone, coming to town one by one each night, wreaking havoc and causing nuisance. The first Yule lad arrives in the early morning of December 12 and the last on the 24th. They then depart in the same order as they arrive, each spending 13 days with us humans. The fourth Yule lad to arrive is Þvörusleikir, or "Spoon-Licker". As his name implies Spoon Licker licks people's spoons!

This is how Þvörusleikir is described in the popular Yule Lad poem:

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.

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