Icelandic Folklore has a rich history of trolls & elves – during the long dark winter nights of old, storytelling was the chief form of Icelandic entertainment, with each region fostering its very own bulk of tales and legends that were passed down from generation to generation throughout the centuries.
These creatures were commonly referred to as Huldufólk, meaning hidden people. They are said to live human-like lives in their own communities and dislike outsiders bothering them. Icelandic trolls live in rocky mountains, deep in the uninhabitable Icelandic highlands. They are said to like the taste of flesh and since trolls are known to steal and eat misbehaving children, troll stories often serve the purpose of keeping mischievous children at bay.
Most trolls can only travel by night and will turn to stone as soon as they are hit by sunlight. Many magnificent Icelandic rock formations are said to be the petrified remnants of trolls who suffered the harsh fate of the sun and derive their names directly from such accounts, for example, West Iceland’s Skessuhorn (Troll Woman’s Peak) and Tröllaskarð (Troll’s Pass) in North Iceland.
Trolls are also featured in much of the Christmas traditions in Iceland. The coming of the Yule Lads marks the start of the Christmas season in Iceland. These thirteen brothers, who are direct descendants of trolls, live in dark deep caves in the mountains along with their ogre parents—their mother Grýla and their father Leppalúði. Each of the thirteen nights before Christmas Eve, one of the thirteen Yule Lads leaves either treats or rotten potatoes in the shoes placed by children in window sills, depending on the child’s behavior throughout the year.
There are famous statutes of Grýla and Leppalúði in the capital city of Reykjavik as well as the city of Akureyri, which inspired this activity. I found a dried up apple that my youngest had stashed behind the couch, and thought it resembled an old wizened up face. This inspired me to create little trolls dolls as we studied Iceland.
First we carved a handful of apples into little faces. I peeled them first and then cut features into the soft flesh – noses, eyes, lips/open mouths. I was a little creative and tried different designs.
We left the apples to dry for several days – the longer the better for this!
Next we cut 2″ cuts into the top of toilet paper tubes. We then folded them around to form a cone and taped them securely with masking tape.
I used a hot glue gun to secure the apple heads onto the tubes and then we started to decorate them.
I had my kiddos pick pieces of clothing from fabric scraps and we ripped off pieces to create colorful rags for these little folk. We used faux fur for hair and beards. We tried to make them look like the statutes and depictions of trolls in Iceland.
We completed our dolls with little map pins for eyes. You could use cloves too, but I didn’t have any, haha.
They turned out so cute! My kiddo loved playing with them. The dried apples make them look deliciously creepy.
While I may not believe in trolls, they are fun to make! 🙂