December 21st: Gáttaþefur


The 11th Yule Lad to arrive from the mountains is Gáttaþefur or Door Sniffer, making his entrance tonight . He has a disproportionately big nose which gives him an extraordinarily great sense of smell. This is handy when you’re a hungry Yule Lad constantly on the lookout for food to “borrow”.

Image via Brian Pilkinton from the book The Yule Lads

Image via Brian Pilkinton from the book The Yule Lads

Gáttaþefur’s favorite is Laufabrauð, thin decorated deep fried wheat cakes that people in Iceland eat during the Christmas season. Most often with the delicious hangikjöt (smoked lamb) but also often at night when the midnight cravings strike and they think nobody is looking. He can smell the laufabrauð miles away and then just follows it until he finds the source of this delicious aroma.

It has to be said that Grýla is not the model mother and she hasn’t exactly instilled good moral values in her boys. So it’s only natural that Gáttaþefur steals every cake he sees instead of simply asking for a little bite. Leaving a few cookies on a plate by the shoe in the window might get you on his good sides though and convince him to leave you an extra special treat. Or not.

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