Have you decked the halls with boughs of holly? Afterall, t’is the season to be jolly. And, as far as we’re concerned, nothing is jollier than winning a $200 Bungalo gift certificate to treat you and/or your loved ones to a cosy time in the cottage, chalet, or summerhouse of your dreams. We have it on good authority that Iceland’s very own Yule Lads, or Jólasveinn, are in possession of a few such gift certificates and are going to be handing them out to some lucky Bungalo fans.
What’s that? You don’t know who the Jólasveinn are? Well, gather ’round, friends, and let us introduce you to this charming Icelandic Christmas tradition.
While many countries have their own unique Christmas icon — Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus being the big guy in red that likely comes to mind — Iceland has a team of 13 harbingers of the season and they’re called Jólasveinn, a.k.a. Yule Lads.
Starting with the family tree, the Jólasveinn are the 13 sons of Grýla and Leppalúði, a couple of trolls who live in the mountains. Each son has his own mischievous trademark that he is named for and they come down from the mountain, one each night for 13 nights, to wreak havoc and punish children that have been naughty before Christmas by leaving a rotten potato in their shoe. Of course, if you’ve been good you can expect a little treat in your footwear instead. The family also has a cat… a cat that eats anybody who hasn’t gotten new clothes for Christmas! But that’s another story in an of itself…
First up, coming into town on the eve of 12 December is Stekkjarstaur. His signature is to rile up all the sheep in the country. Luckily for the sheep he’s clumsy and has two wooden peg legs that’s he’s not particularly steady on. Who know, maybe he got on the cat’s bad side.
Next is Giljagaur. While his brother sticks to sheep, Giljagaur prefers cows, and hides in gullies awaiting his chance to sneak into a barn and steal the milk.
Stúfur comes along next, leaving gifts on the morning of the 14th. This guy is rather short but has a large, though undiscerning appetite. While sneaking in to fill up your shoes, Stúfur will also pick any crust left on your pots and pans. Yum!
Where Stúfur is short and plump, the next Jólasveinn, Þvörusleikir, is lanky and thin. If you wake up on the 15th unable to find your wooden spoons, blame Þvörusleikir. Stealing spoons is his trademark.
Pottaskefill has a slightly more sophisticated palate than his stalky brother. If you leave any leftovers in yours pots on the eve of the 16th, don’t expect to see them there in the morning. Pottaskefill will lick them all clean.
Perhaps Grýla and Leppalúði don’t feed their sons enough, because the next Jólasveinn, Askasleikir, also has a thing for stealing food. This guy lurks under beds, waiting for people to put their “askur” (a wooden bowl with a lid traditionally used in Icelandic homes instead of other dishes) down and then steals it.
Should you hear any doors slamming in your home on the eve of the 18th, it’s not a ghost. It’s Hurðaskellir, who gets a kick out of slamming as many as he can.
If you’re a fan of the Icelandic dairy product skyr, you’re not alone. Skyrgámur loves the stuff and will gobble all of yours up if it’s in the house.
Meanwhile, Bjúgnakrækir will steal any sausages you leave hanging around smoking.
From the culinary to the slightly creepy… Gluggagægir will lurk outside your home, peering in your windows looking for things to steal. So maybe keep your curtains drawn on the eve of 21 December.
As Gluggagægir uses his eyes, Gáttaþefur employs his comically large nose to sniff around your door hoping to catch a whiff of laufabrauð, a thin, crispy wafer popular during the holidays.
Next, coming into town on the 23rd is a fellow that wields a metal hook to steal any and all meat he can. So keep an eye on that Christmas turkey or ham unless you want it snatched by Ketkrókur.
Last, but not least is Kertasníkir, or candle stealer, will follow children around in a attempt to steal their candles… not sure how this would take form in modern times. Maybe he’s developed a taste for iPhones…
So those are the mischievous characters you can expect to meet this holiday season. But, back to those gift certificates… The first Jólasveinn will be coming down from the mountain on the eve of the 12th and, along with gifts (or rotten potatoes) to put in the shoes of the children of Iceland, he’ll be carrying a sweet Bungalo gift certificate for one lucky cottage-lover. In fact, Bungalo has equipped each of the 13 Jólasveinn with a $200 gift certificate, so there will be one big winner every day before Christmas!
Assuming you’ve been good this year, here’s how you can score one of those 13 gift certificates:
- Check out Bungalo’s Facebook page daily for an introduction to the Jólasveinn of the day and a link to a question about the mischief he’s been getting up to in the lowlands.
- Visit Bungalo’s blog for a hint to help you answer the question.
- Check back on Facebook (or in your inbox) the next morning to see if you’ve won!
It’s as easy as saying Þvörusleikir!
What’s more, even if you’re not the big winner of the day, Bungalo doesn’t want to leave your shoe empty, so if you participate in the game you’ll be given a link to buy a Bungalo gift certificate — the perfect Christmas gift for that special someone… or just for yourself — at a discounted price. It’s our gift to you!
All Bungalo gift certificates are redeemable for any of the amazing cottages listed on Bungalo.com and the contest is open to everybody! Ready for some fine print? You can only redeem one gift card per booking. That’s about it!
Holler at us on Facebook or in the comments if you’re not sure about how to get in on the Jólasveinn action. Or just be in touch in general — we love hearing from you.