Letting the Cat Out of the Bag [Xmas Trivia]

The beauty of celebrating a holiday as old as Christmas is that many of the legends surrounding it are rich and alive with culture and tradition.

Passed down through the generations from family to family, the telling of these tales is a fun and integral part of the holiday season. While most of them are light-hearted and fun, a few are rather dark and disturbing.

One such tale is the legend of the Yule Cat or Jólakötturinn, a large monster of Icelandic folklore who belonged to a family descended from trolls.

This vicious animal was said to prowl the countryside during Christmastime and eat anyone who had not received new clothes to wear by Christmas Eve.

According to the tradition, children who finished their chores before Christmas would get new clothes as a reward for their hard work, whereas those who were lazy would get nothing and then be eaten by the Jólakötturinn as punishment for their misdeeds.

In order to figure out who had been industrious or not, the monstrous cat would creep from house to house, peering in the windows and making sure that the children had new clothes as gifts among their presents.

While the story itself is quite sinister, the legend of the Yule Cat is similar, at its core, to that of Krampus or even Santa Claus. Each is essentially an enforcer of good behaviour during Christmas time and an incentive used by adults to get children to behave.

Happy holidays!

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