The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 24, 2016

December 24

If you do not have new clothes by the end of today, December 24, there is a risk you will become catchow. Jólakötturinn, the Christmas Cat of Iceland, has that cranky reputation. Did I mention Jólakötturinn is huge.

Image result for christmas cat

Here's the story.

There is a charming old bit of folklore from the land of ice and volcanoes about a giant cat that, come Christmas time, will eat anyone who does not possess a new article of clothing. In short, work hard and you will be able to have something new. That speaks directly to the work ethic of Iceland’s population who garner more overtime than any other European nation.

Though no one knows exactly how long the Yule Cat, or Jólakötturinn as he is more properly known, has been around, many folk historians believe is may go back to the dark ages. They do know that he was used as a threat by farmers to scare workers into finishing up the processing of wool from the fall season before Christmas. No doubt many Icelandic parents found the story equally useful with their children. Those that completed their work would receive new clothing as thanks. Those who didn’t were destined to be eaten.

A variation to the story is the Yule Cat eats the food of those who do not work hard. The new clothes rule still applies as it is how he differentiates whose Christmas feast he devours. Regardless of the preference in tale told, his appetite is voracious and he does not discriminate. Still, at the very root of the myth is the time tested adage you get out what you put in. A fairly simple and direct message, delivered courtesy of a ginormous man-eating feline...

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