12 November 2007


went to buy milk today and it's time for the ol' Gleðileg mJÓLk already. This is the good times that can be had with the word for milk (mjólk) and the phrase for "merry christsmas" (Gleðileg Jól), and the resulting oh-so-festive packaging that comes along with.

Most readers here seem to already be Icelandophiles and therefore probably know about the bizarre and definitely original tales of the Icelandic "yule lads". There's 13 of them and a pair of creepy parents, and each one of them has a name and associated impish behavior. Featured on my milk carton are the ones that peek in windows, steal sausages, and lick the last tasty bits out of the bottom of bowls. So check it out for yourself here, here, and here. Note also the box design that I complained about months ago! I had another run-in with it just last box when I unstuck the wrong side of the package. When I ripped the correct side and tried to pour, the whole top unfolded itself and spurted milk all the way down the stove side. Still haven't got the hang of it after 2+ years of weekly practice.

But anyway, I started taking photos of the once-a-year packaging last year, so here are a few others- maltextract (not to be confused with the also season-specific Jólaöl), and something called engjaþykkni, a yogurty type thing that comes with crispy rice or chocolate sprinkles to mix in. I need to buy butter soon, but I'm waiting until the special Christmas edition of that comes out, and then it's phototime of that too!

Since there are no major holidays to stem the tide of holinsanity, like Halloween or Thanksgiving, I actually spotted the first seasonal packaging at the very end of October when the kókómjólk switched over. It's not when the milk goes that it's really begun, and I spotted the laufabrauð and cookies have started to come on line as well. I intend to buy and/or photo as many of these as possible. The volume of special designs cannot be described any other way.


Northern musings said...

I had a shock the other day when I went and got the milk for the office - oh dear Christmas is here! It certainly is one of the signs that jólin eru að koma. I would have thought that falling snow would have been my indicator - but no - it is definitely the milk carton. I have now put up the first of the winter lights.. new star curtains from IKEA - mum thought it was too soon, but in the dark I reckon it is never too soon.

Professor Batty said...

... I love the Yule Lads and all the related stories. How can a tiny country have such a rich Christmas tradition? I feel deprived- "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is just not in the same league...

Angel said...

A few days after Halloween I was in the supermarket and heard the familar strains of "Rudolph..." I totally cringed given that we haven't even gotten to Thanksgiving yet.

I loved the pictures of Brussels- what a beautiful, beautiful place. Once I get a job and save some money we have to go on Angel's Grand European Tour.... you and I baby- because I cannot imagine a more fun person to travel with.

Off to San Diego and the big conference. My computer is still dead and Dell is dragging their feet, but I will deal with that after thanksgiving..... I am scared and excited about the job interviews.... and will have pictures of sunny so cal when I get back. (Not as cool as brussels to be sure- but its gonna be warm and balmy there- love it!)

tsduff said...

I've seen pictures of the laufabrauð but never had the pleasure of tasting it. (Looks near impossible to make by hand).

My Skyrgámur who was created for me by a talented Icelandic artist friend sits out all year, because he is too cute to put away.

Vikingisson said...

The lads on milk cartons, funny. Some of those lads are pretty scary so I have a mental picture of a child too afraid to pour the morning milk.

I did a Yule Lad countdown last year on my blog and since it was my first set of posts almost nobody saw it. I think I'll bump the post dates by one year and let them run again this year.

I generally find the whole season more depressing than happy but with my own kids I'm learning to keep a happy face, when I have to...

SOe said...

I really like the figures and the stories behind each of them (info at: www.sunfilm.is). I have to buy milk today!

ECS said...

northern musings: I put up my lights a few days ago for the same reason. It's definitely dark enough to enjoy some holiday lights!

batty: it's definitely a rich tradition, although rather sinister too, with this yellow-eyed cat, and the lads who slam doors and peek into your window at night. Maybe these came from everyone sitting around in the dark with not much else to do but make up tales.

angel: I've read in some articles from the States that it's getting earlier and earlier in the year there too. Hope all's well with your interviews and I look forward to the time when we can trip-it together :)

tsduff: laufabrauð doesn't really taste like much actually- it's kind of a crumbly buttery thing that is the perfect balance with all the other rich and thrilling christmas foods here. As for making it, there are special tools that facilitate the creation of the amazing patterns.

vikingisson: the countdown is a cool tradition, so I think you should definitely re-post!

soe: the only problem with the milk is that you only get certain guys if you only buy one kind of milk. It'd be cool if they changed it all the time!

and for everyone, I have posted more pictures of the butter and the special once-a-year yogurt