I hope you’ve bought yourself some new clothes for Christmas. No, this isn’t a crumble into commercialism, merely a warning. As folklore fans may know, the Yule Cat will eat you alive if you aren’t sporting some new threads on Christmas day. Socks count. Buy some. But there are more festive terrors afoot…
An ogre, some trolls and a cat with a very bad habit:
The Yule cat, or Jólakötturinn of Icelandic lore, is rumored to be the house cat of Grýla , evil child-eating ogress (are we seeing a theme here?) and mother of the more kindly Yule Lads. I like the Yule Lads, thirteen small Santa looking trolls replete with pot bellies, jovial grins and white fluffy beards who come into your house over the holiday season to slam doors and steal sausages. I kid you not. Sausage-Swiper has already visited. So if your sausages have gone missing, you know who to blame. Other Yule Lads include Bowl-Licker, who licks bowls, Pot-Scraper who eats food out of your pots and Door-Slammer who slams doors. Sounds cute. Until we get to Meat-Hook… He arrives December 23.
As house cat of such a family, it’s hardly surprising that the supernaturally massive Yule Cat likes to eat, well, people. But what’s his beef with the new clothes thing? What turned kitty into a ravening fashionista, praying upon those lacking his penchant for dapper duds? Money. Isn’t it always? The old tale goes that those Icelandic farmers who worked hard and got their wool spun before Christmas were rewarded with a new set of togs. Those who didn’t became cat treats.
Which such a strong connection to Christmas, buying stuff, and the proliferation of all things cat on the internet, I have to wonder why we are not awash with festive felines: Yule Cat sweaters, pre-lit Yule Cat lawn décor or Yule Cat Christmas tree ornaments. Let’s face it, the Yule Cat sweater checks many boxes. Not only would it be the best Christmas jumper ever, assuming it was purchased new, it would also act as a talisman, saving the wearer from being devoured. Talk about a win-win. Then there is the lack of Christmas tree ornaments. I could only find one – very cutesy, not in the least bit fearsome, and carrying a fish, not a pair of Prada boots. My underwhelment was overwhelming.
My cute cat ornament hangs near the top of the tree, safe from the fangs of my two new foster cats. We lost our cat Miracle in the summer, and only now felt ready for more, so we took in a couple of recently bereaved rescues. One of them is an old chap called Beau. He’s a big boy of 25 pounds. Not quite Yule Cat proportions, but getting up there for your average household moggie.
In honor of our new guests, I made my Christmas tree cat-proof, or so I thought. It’s artificial, so no pointy pine needles to eat and get stuck in their guts. It’s tethered to the wall to prevent toppling by feline tree climbers. There’s zero tinsel (also gets stuck in their guts) and the ornaments are all shatterproof. Most of them are homemade from cardboard and newspaper. Totally battable and chewable. A cat-safe Christmas tree, right?
It seems, like the Yule Cat, our hefty Beau has an appetite – not for people, but for Christmas trees.
We’ve tried averting his attention, spraying the tree and whole area with some ‘kitty-off’ spray that made us gag to the point of opening a window in sub-zero temperatures. Beau was unperturbed. To be clear, we don’t think he’s actually swallowing any, just ripping the lower branches to shreds. How festive.
I don’t believe there is a moral to this story, but if there is one, it is that Christmas is for cats. And there is a serious gap in the holiday cat décor and clothing market. So prepare to be surprised by your feline family members this Christmas. And just to be on the safe side, buy some new attire. Think of the funds spent as protection money against the ravages of the Yule Cat.