Pot-Licker the Fifth Yule Lad on the 16th of December

Osmundr and Öxullr find the Pot-Licker in their cabin!

Pot Scraper, the fifth one, was a funny sort of chap. 
When kids were given scrapings, he´d come to the door and tap.
And they would rush to see if there really was a guest. 
Then he hurried to the pot and had a scrapingfest.

“Jólasveinarnir” by Jóhannes úr Kötlum
Translated by Hallberg Halmundson
Illustration by Olafur Petursson

Once upon a time, there lived two little boys, Osmundr and Öxullr. They lived on a strond by the sea next to a fishing village. Osmundr was the older brother by many years. He was a clever boy who helped his mother Amanda with drying fish to make harðfiskur – a type of fish jerky. Öxullr also helped – he liked very much helping, and was always very proud to do anything he could! But mostly Osmundr helped with his little brother, and Öxullr liked that, too.

They were a happy family, spending their days drying fish and making delicious stews in their pot for dinner, stews of all sorts and flavors that the children always loved. They would have cockle-and-mussel stew, fish-and-potato stew, rabbit-and-carrot stew, and on very special occasions they would even make a lingonberry crisp in their little pot over their cooking fire.

On one Yuletide morning, December 16th, Osmundr and Öxullr were awakened by their mother. “I have some eggs from the strond that we will eat, and then it will be time to go to work on the harðfiskur!” she told them. After a hearty breakfast, they left their cabin and made for their drying racks right next to it. It was so close, in fact, that they could always smell their breakfast from the shed in the mornings, which made for hungry boys at lunch!

While their mother left with harðfiskur to sell and to buy more fish for drying, Osmundr and Öxullr stayed behind. Some men had delivered a few fish early that morning, and the boys worked to clean them and hang them up. The wind blew strong from over the sea, and the fish swayed in the breeze, drying nicely. They song a song about a hungry raven and went on singing their favorite parts nice and loud!

Krúnk, krúnk! nafnar, komið hér!
Krúnk, krúnk! því oss búin er!

Which means, “‘Caw, caw! ravens, come here! Caw, caw! because you’re ready for this!” They whooshed around the fish racks, arms spread wide like birds, singing, “Krúnk! Krúnk!” when suddenly, they heard,

Bam! Ping! Bong-wong-wong-wong-wong!

They both stopped and looked at each other. Little Öxullr looked at Osmundr and ran to him, eyes wide! The sound came from inside their cabin. They hadn’t seen anyone go inside. Then they heard inside,

Mmmmmm…… nom-nom-nom-nom-nom!

That wasn’t mother’s voice! That voice was low and squeaky at the same time. It was growly and howly!

Ooooooooh!…. nom-nom-nom-nom-nom!

Osmundr stood up straight and scowled at the cabin door. Öxullr followed, staying hidden behind his big brother. Osmundr patted his little brother’s head to comfort him. Then, he pushed the cabin door open quickly and shouted, “Get out of our home, you vagrants!”

Öxullr meeped! Osmundr looked to see what Öxullr was meeping at. There on their very bed sat a troll, scraping at a pot and shoving the scrapings into his mouth. He smiled at the boys and scraped faster.

“Hey!” Osmundr yelled. He hurried over to the troll and grabbed the pot. The troll held on tighter and scraped faster, laughing all the while!

Öxullr ran over and grabbed the pot with his brother’s help. The brothers tugged away at the pot. The troll laughed at them. Then suddenly, Osmundr recognized the troll.

“Pot-Licker, unhand that pot!” he scolded. For it was indeed Pot-Licker, also called Pottasleikir.

Pot-Licker smiled as he gulped up the scrapings he already had. He smacked his lips loudly as he gobbled them down.

Ooooooooh!…. nom-nom-nom-nom-nom!

“Well, you’ve had your fill, Pot-Licker!” Osmundr told him.

Öxullr looked closed to tears at the pot. It was empty and he had wanted the scrapings from that pot himself. Now he would have none.

“Now look what you have done,” Osmundr said sadly to the troll.

“Oh, come now, boys!” Pot-Licker whimpered. “Please, do not be sad!” But it was too late. Giant tears rolled down Öxullr’s face, which made Osmundr ever more angry. “I will pay you back for your scrapings, never fear! Never fear! Will you leave a shoe on your windowsill tonight, and I will in it put my gifts to you!”

Öxullr eyed the troll, hopeful, and nodded. “Yes,” he said, in a very small voice. Osmundr also agreed.

Then Pot-Licker, looking about, whispered to them, “And another thing. Tell your friends to look out for me mum, Grýla,” he warned, peering slowly left and right and tapping his nose. “She’ll be looking for the naughty children by now. Finds them tasty, she does! She makes a great, big stew!”

Osmundr growled at the troll, “we have nothing to fear there. We are good boys and Christians!”

“Ha!” he laughed. “You truly have nothing to fear!” he smiled. “Do not forget the shoe! Remember to put it at the windowsill!”

And with that, the tubby troll with scrapings in his beard went into the fireplace and vanished in a puff of ash!

When their mother came home, Osmundr and Öxullr told their mother all about their visitor and his promise. “A troll? Here?!” was all their mother could say. Night came, they said their prayers, and went to bed.

The next morning, the boys remembered the shoes by the windowsill. They ran to it, wondering if that pot licking troll would remember his promise. Sure as day, sticking out of the shoes, they could see the wing of wooden birds. They pulled them out and found the most exquisite wooden ravens with wings that would really flap! They laughed and ran outside, singing,

Krúnk, krúnk! nafnar, komið hér!
Krúnk, krúnk! því oss búin er!



The song about the Raven: Krummavisur


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