The Legend of the Yule Cat

The legend of the Yule Cat is a Christmas story that’s celebrated and told to Icelandic children even today. Every year, a large Christmas cat is erected in the Laekjartorg square in Reykjavik. Based on Icelandic folklore, the poem The Christmas Cat, written by Jóhannes úr Kötlum, describes a gigantic and dangerous cat — known as Jólakötturinn — that prowls the snowy countryside and catches people instead of mice during Christmas. The story relates how medieval employers would reward their employees for their hard work with new clothes and shoes every Christmas. However, if you were lazy and weren’t rewarded with new clothes, the Yule Cat would come and eat you. A modern twist on the story is that if you give new clothes to someone, you won’t be eaten. The story is meant to encourage children to be productive and avoid laziness.