Iceland Bedtime Stories for a Winter’s Eve

Magazine Iceland Bedtime Stories for a Winter’s Eve

Do not misbehave or Grýla will snatch you away to her cave, where she’ll toss you into a blackened stew kettle so she can cook you and eat you!

Such might be a story told around bedtime at Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura, particularly this time of year, when Christmas hovers on the horizon.

Gryla is more than just the mother of the Yule Lads, twelve meddlesome trolls who wreak more havoc than good for twelve days in December. Over the centuries, the Lads have become more benign, but Grýla… she’s something else altogether.

Grýla has lived in Iceland for centuries, all the way back to when the Sagas were first written on paper. She is sometimes described as a monster with fifteen tails, and often as a menace with three heads, and three eyes upon each head, and with a long knotted beard from which she entangles the children whom she steals just a few days before Christmas.

She lives with Leppalúði, father of the Yule Lads, and also with Jolakotturinn, a fiendish, giant black cat who prowls the countrysides of Iceland to feed on those who do not receive new clothes for Christmas.

A frightening story to be sure, but all in fun and for entertainment, and as a way of keeping alive an ancient Icelandic tradition—storytelling.

The Sagas of Iceland were legends of history and fiction, filled with many colorful characters, and carried along with one sub-plot after another. The stories covered romance, heroic epics, family chronicles, the lives of kings, mythological beings, and magical elements. Most importantly, the authors of the Sagas were the first Europeans to write in their own language, instead of in Latin.

With such a literary heritage underlying the culture of Iceland, it is only fitting to continue the art of storytelling, and so every Thursday, at roughly eight o’clock in the evening, the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura invites you to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, while you sit in your pajamas, snuggled in a blanket, while you listen to a bedtime story from Iceland’s prolific past.

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