It may be time for you to rethink how thankful you’ll be when your grandparents gift you that sweater you always never wanted this holiday season. According to Icelandic legend, there is a monstrous Yule Cat that targets those without fresh holiday gear and… eats them.
Although it is difficult to determine exactly when the legend of the the Yule Cat began, it was popularized in 19th and early 20th century Iceland as a way of enhancing productivity among the working class. According to the National Museum of Iceland, “It is likely that the Yule Cat myth was originally designed to urge farm workers to perform well prior to Christmas… Those who did not… [ended] up in the Yule Cat.” Basically, workers who were deemed productive were given new clothing from their masters, and thereby made safe from the Yule Cat. Those who were considered to be lazy however, were left without new clothes, and made vulnerable to the feral feline with a taste for human flesh. It’s kind of like A Garfield Christmas meets The Walking Dead.
In the video above, a common narrative of the Yule Cat known as Jólakötturinn is outlined in several text slides, and sung to life by Iceland’s very own golden soul child, Björk. In the somewhat haunting music video, the Yule Cat is clearly made out to be one nasty nemesis, but the moral of the story seems to be more about promoting the spirit of generosity rather than having a (literally) killer excuse to buy those ShiftWear kicks you’ve been eyeing.
In the video, Björk belts out the (here translated) lyrics, “[The Yule Cat] picked on the very poor that no new garments got… [But] his next visit would be in vain if next time everybody got something new to wear…” In other words, ’tis the season for giving!
It should also be noted that even if you do manage to wheedle your way out of the Yule Cat’s tum-tum, there’s also Grýla and her 13 sons, the Yule Lads, who will also try to eat you, as well as… wait for it… molest your sheep. You can check out some artists’ takes of both the wicked ogress and her strange sons in the gallery below.
Now that you’ve had a taste of Icelandic holiday legend, what do you think of the Yule Cat and its penchant for scarfing down the scarfless? Do you have a new appreciation for those skivvies that your mom stuffed into your stocking or are you still hoping for some Star Wars collectibles? Let us know in the comments section below!
Featured Image courtesy of deviantART / jetZig