Jólakötturinn: The Killer Yule Cat from Iceland


Arguably the first ever Fashion Police, Jólakötturinn or “Yule Cat” has his roots traced back to the Middle Ages, most likely a combination of a few other folklore worthy animal deities (such as the yule goat). But it was not until the 19th century that we have written record of our sweet cuddly pal. The Yule cat was tasked with going around on Christmas and eating those who did not receive new clothes on Christmas Eve. This cute and cuddly little kitty is also house pet to folklore heavy-hitter Grýla the blood thirsty ogress who is also the mother of the 13 very mischievous Yule Lads who are tasked with giving gifts and rotten potatoes, depending on if the recipient was good or bad (good for you Grýla). Besides being a bloodthirsty kitty belonging to the a true OG on the Christmas folklore scene Jólakötturinn looked like a regular cat, except for the enormous size, claws the size of a cow, eyes that shone like beacons, oh and it’s needle sharp whiskers. Besides that, completely normal. The Yule Cat was not a killer in every story however, in some versions our pal Yule Cat would peer in windows and simply eat the Christmas meal of those who had not received new clothing. In others he would eat lazy children. You’re probably asking yourself “why would this enormous cat worry about new clothing?” well it all goes back to farmers. In the autumn harvest sheering sheep was one of the many tedious jobs to do. Yet wool was so intensely necessary that the hard work was often rewarded with clothing spun from the very wool that farm-hands helped harvest. So it can be assumed that the farmers created Yule Cat as a way to basically say “Work hard or there will be consequences” the consequence just happened to be a giant cat eating you right before Christmas.


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