Say hello to Sausage-Swiper, Doorway-Sniffer, Window-Peeper and other "real" figures of Icelandic Christmas lore.
EVE Online studio CCP Games is based out of Reykjavik, Iceland, and in Iceland they do things a little differently. Like the Yule Lads, for instance. Instead of being a jolly old dude from the North Pole who rides around the world on his sleigh once a year handing out gifts to good little boys and girls, the Yule Lads are a gang of creeps and pervs who see you while you're getting dressed.
You might think that this is all being made up for the EVE Online Holiday Celebration trailer, especially since it begins with Santa Claus being blasted into dust by one of them, but it's apparently all true. They even have a Wikipedia entry, and if that's not sufficiently convincing, the National Museum of Iceland talks about them too. They're the sons of two of Iceland's most hideous ogres (yes, ogres), Grýla and Leppalúði, and were used in a pseudo-Santa fashion to frighten children into behaving. Apparently they were a little too good at their job, however, as the act of using "monsters and fiends" to scare children into obedience was banned by public decree in 1746.
The Yule Lads stuck around, however, and evolved over the 20th century into something more akin to the conventional St. Nick, albeit still a little greasier than the jolly fat guy we know and love. Their actual names and number are a matter of some debate but there are currently considered to be 13 of them, including Spoon-Licker, Pot-Scraper and Sheep-Cote Clod, the first Yule Lad, who comes around every year to suckle farmers' ewes but can't do it because he has stiff knees.
Again, I am not making this up.
Anyway, CCP, being good Icelandic folks, worked the legend of the Yule Lads into this year's EVE Online holiday festivities. They'll be distributing special gifts to all active, paid EVE players on December 20th and 27th, including the "Fantastic Festival Launcher" that shoots snowballs and fireworks and "a host of other treats." All the holiday bonus stuff will show up automatically in the redemption menus of all eligible players.
It sounds like a lot of fun, but the truth - and I'm sure this will come as no surprise - is that I'm really just here for the Yule Lads. I wish we had holiday traditions like that where I come from. But if EVE Online is your thing, you can find out more about the 2012 Holiday Celebration at eveonline.com/holiday.