Gryla, Iceland’s Christmas Witch

Meet Gryla, Iceland’s gruesome cannibal Christmas witch, or the fearsome fairy tale ogre that keeps Icelandic kids toeing the line during the holidays. You might be well caught up with Krampus, the reigning king when it comes to Christmas related folklore, but Gryla is definitely his equal. The Queen that you should definitely know and learn about.

in Iceland, if the kids are naughty, they are not going to be getting lumps of coal for Christmas, instead, they will be eaten by Gryla, the fearsome witch. Folk tales and poems about Gryla have been around since at least the middle ages and in Icelandic folklore, trolls are stupid giants where most of them are very dangerous and actively hates Christianity. IN the 13th Century the term gryla was a general term for a female troll, but eventually, the name became synonyms with one specific troll told to be a child-eating monster like witch troll.

One famous rhyme says that Gryla has 15 tails, one of which holds 100 bags with 20 children in each bag, doomed to be a feast for her family while another rhyme says she has 40 tails with 300 heads, each one having three eyes and others describes her as having eyes in the back of her head, ears that hang so long that they hit her in the nose and even hooves, but no matter what the story, the idea is she is ugly. Realllllly ugly.

But Gryla is not on her own, she is in fact, a mother of 13 mischief makers known as the Yule Lads. They supposedly visit on the 13 days leading up to Christmas.

Gryla was not alone with her Yule lads, she also had Leppaludi as well as a precious companion, (as all witches tend to do) named Jólakötturinn – or the Yule Cat that has well been known to have a nasty taste for human flesh himself as well. He would typically lurk in the snowy countrysides of Iceland and gobble up anyone including adults that didn’t get any new clothes for Christmas as this would normally be an indicator that they might not have been working hard enough during the year.

Gryla represents a cautionary tale, to be nice, be kind, and work hard or else… Parents would normally not believe in Gryla themselves in Iceland but would use her to fear their children into doing the right things throughout the year.

Thank you for reading… #TheSomethingGuy #SouthAfrica #Blog

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