Christmas in Iceland is a little bit different. For 13 days, starting from December 12, the children are visited by a different "Yule Lad" each day.
Legend has it that the Yule Lads are the sons of Gryla and Leppaluol. Gryla, the mother, was a very evil troll. Often shown with an extra eye in the back of her head, Gryla always knew when anyone behaved badly.
Gryla's cat was scary too. If a child didn't get any new clothes for Christmas, the cat would eat the child for lunch! This legend lives on in the popular Icelandic saying, "You don't want to go to the Yuletide Cat."
Long ago, the Yule Lads were more like their evil mother. They tried to trick children into behaving better. In more modern times, these 13 visitors have become much friendlier. They look more like little Santas than scary trolls.
Many children place a shoe on their windowsill on each of the 13 nights before Christmas. If they've been good, they'll receive a small gift from the Yule Lad. If they've misbehaved, they'll get a potato.