Jólakötturinn—The Icelandic Christmas Cat

Christmas is a time for family, gratitude, traditional food, and, in most cases, threats and/or bribes to elicit good behavior. Children spend the weeks leading up to Christmas knowing that if they don’t do as they’re told, the mythical being responsible for bringing them presents (or his/her cronies) will leave a disappointing or even terrifying surprise instead.

But what if the children receive perfectly lovely, practical gifts like socks and new school clothes, but they hate them? Iceland has the answer. Simply explain to the children that anyone who doesn’t receive clothing for Christmas will be hunted down and eaten by the bloodthirsty Jólakötturinn (Yule Cat). Suddenly those socks are the greatest present they’ve ever received. So on the Fifth Day of Imported Christmas, we gave each other clothes to appease the Icelandic Yule Cat.

Continue reading