The Yule Cat
The Yule Cat is a monster from Icelandic folklore, a huge and vicious cat said to lurk about the snowy countryside during Christmastime and eat people who have not received any new clothes to wear before Christmas Eve. The Yule Cat has become associated with other figures from Icelandic folklore such as the house pet from the giantess Gryla (a mythical ogre who eats naughty children) and her sons, the Yule Lads (13 Santa-like troll figures). They put rewards or punishments into shoes placed by children in window sills during the last 13 nights before Christmas Eve. Every night, one Yuletide lad visits each child, leaving gifts or rotting potatoes, depending on the child's behavior throughout the year. The oldest written sources on the Yule Cat are from the 19th century. The threat of being eaten by the Yule Cat was used by farmers as an incentive for their workers to finish processing the autumn wool before Christmas. The ones who took part in the work would be rewarded with a gift of new clothes. The ones who did not complete their tasks however, received no gift from their master, thus ending up in the Yule Cat. In other words, the Yule Cat helped combat laziness and inertia. The cat hates the scent of new things, particularly clothes, and will paw and hiss at them, leaving anyone wearing such things be. But anything familiar, worn and old will draw it in, and then nothing can help you.
Naturally it was highly unjust, that those who, due to poverty or other adverse circumstances did not receive any new clothing, risked being eaten by a horrible Yule Cat. On the other hand, people who had more to give than others were urged to assist those less fortunate, so that everyone could enjoy a Christmas free of monsters and fiends. The cat has alternatively been interpreted as merely eating away the food of those without new clothes during Christmas feasts. The perception of the Yule Cat as a man-eating beast was partly popularized by the poet Johannes ur Kotlum in his poem ''Jolakotturrin.''
Source: Hyaena Gallery