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Grýla, in Icelandic mythology, is a horrifying monster and a giantess living in the mountains of Iceland. Most of the stories told about Gryla were to frighten children.[1]

The Grýla legend has been frightening to the people of Iceland for centuries – her name is even mentioned in Snorri Sturluson's thirteenth century Edda. People of Iceland successfully used her story to scare children to sleep. It was put into halt when a public decree was passed in 1746 prohibiting this practice to avoid traumatizing children further.[2]

The Christmas Ogress[edit]

Grýla was not directly linked to Christmas until the 17th century.[3] By that time she had become the mother of the Yule Lads.

She has the ability to detect children who are misbehaving year-round. During Christmas time, she comes from the mountains to search nearby towns for her meal.[4] She leaves her cave and hunts for the children. She devours children as her favorite snack. Her favorite dish is a stew of naughty kids and she had an insatiable appetite. According to legends, there was never a shortage of food for Gryla.[5]

According to folklore Grýla has been married three times. Her third husband Leppalúði is said to be living with her in their cave in the Dimmuborgir lava fields, with the big black Yule Cat and their sons. As Christmas approaches, Grýla sets off looking for naughty boys and girls. The Grýla legend has appeared in many stories, poems, songs and plays in Iceland and sometimes Grýla dies at the end of the story.

In popular culture[edit]

Grýla was featured in an article by The Onion, a satirical news site, citing her as the cause of the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull.[6] In 2012, Stuff Monsters Like, a satirical blog inspired by horror films, posted an article entitled "Monsters Like Holiday Stew", in which they referenced Gryla's appetite for small children.[7]


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