For many people Christmas associates with hot beverages, pleasant smells of certain spices, fruits and conifers as well as with warmth and coziness. Do cats possess similar vibes too? I choose to think that when asked, the vast majority of people would say “yes”. And as an owner of two lovely cats, I can definitely add that one cat would bring a lot of good vibes, but two cats would double it! I feel more calm to leave them alone as they play, cuddle, and keep each other company when I´m not around. But most of the joy comes from the fact that they never fail to meet me with happiness when I arrive home…and to demand to get more treats, naturally. Being playful and curious animals, they would always check what did I bring in my bag as well as what is hiding in each and every open drawer… And it is so nice to watch them play, being curious or doing silly things!
Surprisingly, despite that my cats bring a lot of joy and positivity as well as a cozy Christmassy mood all year round, some cats in other cultures can be carrying a very different message for Christmas. In particular, there is one such cat in Icelandic folklore. Apparently, in Icelandic tradition there are several evil spirits of Christmas, one of them is Yule cat (“Christmas cat”, trans.). Even to this day the children are told stories about a monstrous cat which would eat people if they were lazy and if not rewarded with new clothes on Christmas. That is true – the one who does not get rewards gets punished! Also, in Reykjavik every year around Christmas time, a giant cat figure is put up in one of the city squares, perhaps to intimidate people into good behavior before Christmas.
The origins of this myth are mysterious, with the written records dating back to the 19th century. Most probably the origins of this tradition are very old. One explanation is that people were encouraged to finish all their weaving and knitting before Christmas. Another basis for this terror story could be to encourage children to be happy about the socks and sweaters they got as a present. Either way, I found myself quite surprised by this Christmas cat story when I first heard it, as for me cats are quite the opposite: my two cats bring a lot of happiness and joy all year round! Hopefully my cats, as well as yours, are not secretly planning to eat their owners for this Christmas dinner! Merry Christmas and beware of Yule cat!