13 Yule Lads live in Iceland, the sons of the old trolls Grýla and Leppalúði. Grýla and Leppalúði keep a pet, a wicked cat, which may sometimes catch children. Grýla, who is big and formidable, was said to collect the naughty children in a sack and take them home to eat for Christmas dinner. If a child is naughty, Grýla finds out immediately. Grýla can't lay her hands on good children.
An old tradition in Iceland is, that 13 days prior to Christmas the Yule Lads start coming down from the mountain one each night. Children in Iceland place their best shoe on their windowsill before going to bed and each night a little gift is left in the shoe from the Yule lad that came down from the mountain that night. If the child has been misbehaving, there might be a raw potato left instead.
The Yule Lads aren't as mean as their parents but they aren't very well-mannered either. The Icelandic Christmas season begins on December 12th, when Stekkjastaur (Sheep-Cote Clod) descends from the mountains. The last one, Kertasníkir (Candle-Stealer) arrives on Aðfangadagur, Christmas day on the 24th of December. Then they leave again to the mountains, one by one in the same order until the last one, Kertasníkir leaves on the last day of Christmas, January 6th.
The Yule Lads have made Dimmuborgir their home. Dimmuborgir is an enchanting area to explore on a nice summer day. Visiting Dimmuborgir at Christmas time, however, is truly magical. The landscape takes on a different look in its winter garb and that is the time when the Icelandic Yule Lads who reside in Dimmuborgir become active. Visiting them in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience children of all ages.
The Yule Lads love guests. Every day from December 1 - December 24 they will welcome guests in Hallarflöt inside Dimmuborgir between 11:00am and 1:00pm. You can come visit them at any point within this time frame, meet them, get to know them, maybe ask them to sing you a song and walk around and look at their small cave and enjoy the beautiful landscape. There are rarely many of them at once in the area since they are busy preparing for the holidays. How many will you spot? Will you recognize who they are and what their names are?