Spoon Licker, the fourth of the 13 Icelandic Yule Lads, hated bathing. Once a year he had to take a Christmas bath with his brothers and they always had to force him. This year, Garpur the horse came to their assistance.

Garpur saves the Christmas bath

Spoon Licker (Þvörusleikir) ran as fast as he could in the snow-covered terrain of Dimmuborgir lava fields. His stringy grey hair and long beard fluttered in the wind. He used his long wooden spoon like a walking stick to get through the largest snowdrifts. But then he couldn’t walk any further. Out of breath he hid behind a rock. In the distance he heard his brothers shout his name: “Spoon Licker! Spoon Licker! Come back. You have to bathe!” This miserable time of year had come, when Spoon Licker’s 12 Yule Lad brothers forced him to take a bath and clean himself in time for Christmas. But he couldn’t stand getting wet! Why couldn’t they understand?

Spoon Licker and Meat Hook entertaining visitors to Dimmuborgir.

At Advent families from all over the country came to visit the 13 Yule Lads in their home in Dimmuborgir near Lake Mývatn in North Iceland. Spoon Licker thought it was good fun to chat with the children and their parents, pose in photographs and play games. But afterwards, everyone bathed together in the Mývatn Nature Baths. The Yule Lads only bathed once a year but Spoon Licker hated it. He always tried to get out of it, but somehow his brothers always managed to find him and trick him into the water. It gave him the creeps, just thinking about it.

It had been unusually cold in Dimmuborgir this year. The winter sun had started its early descent behind the mountains, casting a golden glow on the brilliant landscape. Here and there the black lava stuck out of the snow and stood in stark contrast to the otherwise white surroundings. But Spoon Licker didn’t notice the beauty around him. He was freezing. The cold moved higher and higher up his legs. He stamped his feet and rubbed his hands together in an effort to keep them warm. His mind drifted unintentionally to the warm water that awaited him… but, no! Spoon Licker was stubborn and would rather freeze to death than bathe!

Spoon Licker in hiding.

Darkness was setting in and Spoon Licker still stood quiet as a mouse against the rock. He started feeling like an icicle because it seemed as if he had frozen stuck to the rock and couldn’t move even if he wanted to. Then he heard his name shouted again and now closer than before. He heard creaking in the snow as if a lot of legs were moving closer. Suddenly, a light appeared. It was his giant brother, Gully Gawk, holding a lantern. Behind him were more Yule Lads and they were leading a… horse!? Where on earth had they gotten a horse? When he saw the stunned look on his brother’s face, Gully Gawk laughed so hard that his belly shook. “Remember when you said that ten wild horses couldn’t drag you into the bath? Well, now we’ll see. This is just one tamed horse called Garpur, which we borrowed. But I’m sure he’ll do!”

Spoon Licker tried feebly to protest but the only sound that came out from between his half-frozen lips was a pitiful whining. Meet Hook had a rope and started to wrap it around Spoon Licker. His brothers had in fact tied him and dragged him into the Christmas bath before but never made a horse do the dirty work for them! They tied the to Garpur halter and started walking. Spoon Licker couldn’t do anything else but run along, even though his feet were numb from standing still for such a long time in the frost.

Approaching the baths.

Finally, they noticed steam rising from the white landscape. They had arrived at the Mývatn Nature Baths where a group of children excitedly awaited their arrival. Projectors illuminated the pale blue water but in the black sky, millions of stars sparkled. The brothers petted the horse and awarded it with a piece of bread. They untied Spoon Licker, undressed him and then pulled him in unison into the warm water. The children shrieked for joy when Spoon Licker tried to fight them off, then falling headfirst into the Baths.

Spoon Licker gasped for breath as he shot up again. His soaked hair was glued to his face and he felt the water seep through his woollen undies. He scowled. Then he sensed the warmth passing through his body, reviving his frozen limbs. Then Spoon Licker turned his frown upside down, kicked about in the Baths and played games with the kids. Maybe this isn’t so bad, he thought to himself. On the banks he heard Garpur, which had dragged him there, give out a friendly neigh. Spoon Licker smiled to himself, raised his wooden spoon and waved goodbye.

Read more about the Icelandic Yule Lads from Dimmuborgir here. Also read our past stories about Stiff-Leggy, Gully Gawk and Stubby.

Text: Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir. Photos: Marcin Kozaczek/visitmyvatn.is.


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