Smoking meats is one of the favourite cooking methods in Iceland. Smoked fish and lamb are popular throughout the year, as well as smoked sausages known in Icelandic as ‘bjúgu’.
On the night of the 20th, however, constant vigilance is required when preparing the bjúgu. This delicious treat is not just the favourite meal of many Icelanders, but it is also the only piece of food that the ninth Yule Lad, Bjúgnakrækir, wants to get his grubby hands on.
Over the past weeks, eight of his half-troll brothers—the sons of the child-eating giantess, Grýla—have already been pulling hijinks around the island. Bjúgnakrækir’s personal way of stirring up trouble is to break into homes and hide in the rafters, waiting for dinner to be cooked.
As soon as the sausages begin smoking over the fire, he licks his lips in anticipation, waiting on an opportunity to grab them all. This behaviour earns his name, which translates in English to Sausage Snatcher.
Bjúgnakrækir’s hunt for the nation’s smoked sausages will take him around the whole island. While Santa can get around the world in a night, these cumbersome trolls take thirteen days to get to each house. After that, they return to their home in the lava fortress of Dimmuborgir in the north.
Icelanders can wake on the 20th of December with at least some solace; the terror of nine Yule Lads is now over. However, the antics of four more are yet to come, and those are some of the creepiest yet.