December 22nd: Ketkrókur


The 12th and second last to come to town of the Yule Lads is Ketkrókur or Meat Hook. He arrives from the mountains tonight, leaving treats in shoes all over the place before the morning, with the hook he uses to steel the meat he so much desires.

Image via Brian Pilkinton from the book The Yule Lads

Image via Brian Pilkinton from the book The Yule Lads

Maybe Ketkrókur resembles the more traditional Santa the most as he would hang around on the rooftops of the turf houses that everyone used to live in back in the day and try to hook some meat through the chimney with his specially designed hook. Unfortunately he wasn’t much smarter than the rest of his brothers so the story goes that he wasn’t very successful due to the shortness of said hook.

It wasn’t just any meat he was after, he was going for the holy Icelandic Christmas grail: The hangikjöt (smoked lamb). Apparently it was a custom a long time ago to serve Hangikjöt on the 23rd of December, the day Ketkrókur was skulking around, although today this traditions has mostly moved to the 25th of December. Today people eat skate (something that smells so foul that fermented shark is like a fresh spring meadow next to it)  on the 23rd so who knows what Ketkrókur is eating these days. He”s also unlucky since most houses in Iceland don’t actually have a chimney any more.

Maybe Ketkrókur will apply for a name change soon since the odds are mostly stacked against him. He has to make sure that his new name adheres to the rules of the Naming Committee though – we don’t want another Blær fiasco so close to Christmas.

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