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The Yule Cat of Iceland: Christmas Cat

She is hunchbacked, huge, moth-eaten, her hair is like needles and she prefers to eat children. The Icelandic Christmas cat is really to be feared.

Different countries, different customs: while we are waiting for Santa Claus in December, there are completely different journeymen on the way to Iceland. Pre-Christian customs have been preserved here, which is why the advent calendars here only have 13 small doors.

Iceland Christmas Cat

The evil Christmas cat Jólakötturinn is the pet of the troll witch Grýla. She is threatened with naughty children because this is what she likes to eat best. Grýla’s sons are the Jólasveinar, the thirteen Icelandic Santa Clauses, dwarfs who originally didn’t bring presents, but steal something or play jokes. You are on the road between December 12th and January 6th.

The Cat Comes on Christmas Eve

The day of the Jólakötturinn is December 24th. Here the hungry Christmas cat prowls around to steal and eat naughty, lazy children. Only those who wear new clothes, especially new socks, are spared on Christmas Eve.

New clothing was a sign that someone had not been lazy, but spun all the wool from the sheep until winter and made it into clothing. Important to survive the cold winters on the inhospitable island. The story of the Jólakötturinn is, therefore, to be understood as an invitation to be hardworking and to prepare for the winter in good time.

The first written evidence for the legend of the Christmas cat comes from the 18th century, but this story was certainly passed down orally long before that.

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