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Iceland Mag

Culture

Last Yule Lad came to town last night: Kertasníkir, or Candle Begger

By Staff

  • Kertasníkir The last and according to polls, the most popular of the Yule lads, Kertasníkir or Candle Begger comes to town on December 24. Photo/The Icelandic National Museum.

According to tradition the thirteen Icelandic Yule Lads come to town, one each night from December 12 to December 24. The last, Kertasníkir or Candle Begger comes to town on the morning of December 24. The coming of the Yule Lads is a source of great excitement for Children, as they help count down the days to Christmas. 

Bringers of small treats for children
Since the 1930s or 40s the Yule Lads have also been bringing small treats and gifts to well-behaved children who have placed a shoe on the window sill. Naughty ones will, however, wake up to find a potato in theirs. Children will leave small candles in their shoe for Candle Beggar.

The thirteen brothers all have very descriptive names reflecting either their nature or the prank they play.

Originally a thief, who stole candles from children

Kertasníkir, whose name means Candle Beggar, who is the is the thirteenth and last Yule Lad to arrive in town came to town this morning. He follows children around in order to steal their candles, which in the olden days were made from tallow and therefore edible. He is described in the popular Christmas verse Jólasveinarnir by poet Jóhannes úr Kötlum:

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.

Most popular Yule Lad
Kertasníkir is also the most popular of the 13 brothers, according to a 2015 poll by market research company MMR.35% of respondents named Kertasníkir, or Candle Beggar, as their favourite Yule lad. Stúfur, or Stubby, was the second most popular of all the brothers, while the noisiest Yule lad, Hurðaskellir (Door Slammer) landed in third place.

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