6 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About the Yule Cat (Iceland Christmas Cat)

Christmas is a time of celebration, a time to share meals and presents with family.

While many parts of the world gift each other presents for the sake of kindness, generosity, and love, Icelandic residents do it for a different purpose.

See, without having a new pair of socks by Christmas, you would be dinner for a massive Yule Cat.

What is this mysterious beast all about, anyway? Walk with us as we discuss 6 facts about the Yule Cat.

1. The Yule Cat Had A Massive Appetite

Also called Jolakotturinn, the Yule Cat is a ginormous feline with an equally massive appetite.

During the holidays, he goes back and forth the snowy countryside of Iceland looking for someone to devour.

His main targets are people that don’t have clothes as Christmas presents from their loved ones.

The night before Christmas, the giant cat visits every home, looking through the window to find out if you received a pair of socks.

If you didn’t, he will eat your dinner before moving to you.

What does having a pair of socks before Christmas has to do with anything?

Well, the Yule Cat picked on clothes because the Icelandic culture rewarded well-behaved kids with new outfits.

If you were a hardworking child who finished chores in good time, you would receive clothes before 25th December.

On the other hand, if you were lazy, you received nothing deserving of being swallowed up by a big cat.

2. Tall Cat

The Jolakotturin is not only big physically but tall as well.

For him to scout for well-behaved (or otherwise) kids, he had to be tower above houses.

He would then lower his head and look through the window to find out if the owners had new clothes or not.

If you look at how the cat is depicted in literature, you will prove this fact.

Often, the cat is tens of times taller and bigger than people, cars, houses, trees, you name it.

Many books have tried to describe the Yule cat. The leading ones include the following:

  • The Yule Cat: A Christmas Short Story: Maisie Crompton finds herself crossing the path of a fearsome beast that loves coming out to play during Christmas. If she is hunted by the best, she might just end up being his dinner.

3. Yule Cat’s Owner Is A Baby-Eating Feline Too

Iceland’s frightening folklore keeps getting scarier.

Apparently, there’s another myth that achieves the same reason of getting kids to behave well during the holidays.

In this specific one, Yule’s owner, Gryla, kidnaps lazy children, cooks, and eats them. This she does with trickster Yule Lads.

For a long time, kids believed that Gryla and her baby-eating family of cats actually existed.

4. The Yule Cat Is Believed To Be Related To The Yule Goat

The Yule Cat is one among many strange Icelandic Christmas spirits.

He lived in uninhabited areas in the tropics such as the mountains and broke into people’s homes to eat children and harass livestock.

As far back as the early 19th century, the inhabitants of Iceland believed that the Yule Cat was closely related to the Yule Goat in Scandinavia.

The latter stretches far back to pre-historic time, particularly the worship of Thor.

Yule Goat has since disappeared in modern times. The rise of the Medieval Church led to its extinction.

5. The Yule Cat Is Legendary, Even Today

With the absurdity of the Icelandic folklore, you would think that the Yule Cat myth is outdated.

However, it is quite obvious that the legendary cat is still a big name to date.

There are a number of several YouTube videos dedicated to explaining the whole mystical creature to the world.

Storied’s The Wicked Feline Murder Floof, a Yule Cat Story is a great feature of the scary cat.

That’s not all. Every year around Christmas, a huge Christmas kitty is put up in Reykjavik’s Laekjartorg Square.

This is done to relive the memories of the old generation of the Icelandic people and what Christmas meant for them.

Apparel dedicated to the Yule Cat fills the market.  Yule Cat of Iceland Christmas Gift T-Shirt is one example.

It is a beautiful cotton tee with a huge drawing of the vicious winter cat at the back. Perfect gift for Christmas!

6. Poem Dedication

The Icelandic folklore surrounding the Yule Cat caught so much fire that one man Johannesur Kotlum (1899-1972) wrote a poem about the scary feline.

The poet went into detail describing how the cat looked and how dangerous he was to the people.

Parting Thoughts

In a geographic place where the sun shines for only a few months, being gifted a pair of socks is everything.

The Yule cat folklore acted as a catalyst to boost the holiday spirit and got everyone sharing.