13 Yule Lads come to town to herald Icelandic Christmas
The people of northern Iceland have had their travel plans disrupted with a record high snowfall this December. Roads have been shut, flights cancelled and school suspended.
But for the children of this isolated North Atlantic island nation, the main worry is how the waist-high snow might affect the Icelandic Santa, Stekkjastaur, who comes to town Wednesday.
He is one of 13 mischievous troll brothers, called the Yule Lads, who have entertained and also frightened Icelandic children for hundreds of years.
Instead of a friendly Santa Claus, children in Iceland enjoy favors from the brothers, who arrive from the mountains 13 days before Christmas. They have names like Door-Slammer, Window-Peeper, Meat-Hook, Candle-Stealer.
To children in the region, their arrival marks the countdown to December 24, when Icelanders celebrate Christmas.