Jolakotturinn: The Yule Cat (And Other Giant Cats)
At first glance, there isn’t much to the Yule Cat.
No, no, we take that back.
The Yule Cat (pet of Grýla the Ogress) is a giant cat that comes around every Christmas and eats children who weren’t given any new clothing as presents. While oddly specific and seemingly minuscule, we can’t really say there isn’t much there.
The Yule Cat, or Jolakotturinn, stands out among the characters he shares tales with. There is the aformentioned Grýla, a bogey-ish ogress who eats children, and the Jolasveinar, the 13 mischievous troll brothers …
… Then you have this random, giant cat. But if we widen the lens a bit, he isn’t so strange.
Giant cats appear throughout the world’s varied cultures. One of our favorites, and a popular creature in today’s pop-culture, is the Bake-neko: a Japanese monster cat said to be the size of a house, whose thundering footfalls are said to be like that of an elephant’s.
That’s not all …
Ireland has cat-sidhe (cat-shee), or fairy cats, who would steal the souls of the dead by stalking above a corpse. King Arthur was once said to have slain giant cat beasts as well, and Freya, the Norse goddess of love and fertility, had a chariot drawn by two giant felines.
The list goes on.
Might we say that Grýla’s giant pet is simply one domesticated species of monster house cat?
As for the strange beast himself, many people question why Iceland would have such a horrible legend – that a giant cat is going to devour you if you don’t get clothes for Christmas.
The reason is simple: Children who helped with making the fabric were given gifts from that same fabric. So, if you help us gather and create this material, we may give you new clothes!
But if you don’t, Grýla and her giant rat-catcher are totally going to chew you up.
Kids these days. They just don’t get it. 😉
With all these other legendary giants and monsters running around this time of year, we are beginning to wonder if it’s even worth being concerned about being on Santa’s list. It may be a bit more complex than just being naughty or nice …
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