The Suitcase Lady


December 13, 2011, 10:04 pm

No one will ever call this cat “kitty”. While researching the Norse goddess Freyja and her twin, chariot-pulling cats, I stumbled onto a reference to the Icelandic Yule Cat, Jolakottur.

Visions of a sweet Christmas tale appeared in my head. A trip to Google quickly dispelled those notions. Iceland’s Yule Cat is a bad cat, no doubt about it. The gargantuan cat eats children, and that’s about as grim as it gets….pun intended. The only protection from this ferocious feline is to wear all new clothes on Christmas Eve. Most Icelanders do exactly that.

In Icelandic mythology, the Yule cat is the household pet of Gryla the ogress and her children, the 13 Yule Lads. Their stories must be saved for another blog as Gryla myths are numerous and date back to the 13th Century.

The Yule Cat myth most likely was created to make farm laborers work harder. The Masters stipulated that all the work with the Autumn wool be completed before the Yule. The hard workers were rewarded with a new piece of clothing while those who were lazy were told by the gentry that they would be eaten by the fiendish Yule Cat. The cat would recognize those who were behind in their chores: their clothes would be old and worn.

In our household we have one cat named Taj who looks exactly like the black Yule Cat with his yellow eyes. But Taj is sweet, and I think we will survive the holidays without donning all new clothes.

Unless you are a curmudgeon, click here for an absolutely delightful short video from Iceland about the infamous Yule Cat.

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