Saturday 24 December 2016

Christmas Explained: Y is for Yule Cat

Don't complain when you get given socks and a home-knitted sweater again this Christmas - the gift-giver might just be saving your life!

In Iceland, the Yule Cat - or Jólakötturinn - is a carnivorous monster that will devour you if you do not make it an offering. But it’s not just any offering; you must specifically put out new clothing - a wool sweater, socks, anything - for the cat to have in the cold winter.

The clothing is put out because you are supposed to show off the new clothes you got for Christmas. And be warned, the demon cat will know if the clothing is old!

The emphasis on the legend is to ensure that everyone has presents at Christmas, encouraging Icelanders to work hard prior to the festive period, so that they can afford to purchase their loved ones new gifts. And if you do not receive new clothes, you can’t offer anything to the Yule Cat, and you will most assuredly be eaten.

You will find a host of other such unusual, and downright disturbing, Christmas traditions described inside Christmas Explained: Robins, Kings and Brussel Sprouts!

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