Iceland's Yule Cat will help you appreciate Christmas socks - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Iceland's Yule Cat will help you appreciate Christmas socks

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REYKJAVIK, Iceland -

When I was growing up, getting socks as a Christmas gift was just about the biggest travesty in the world. As I grew older. I realized cool socks are actually a great gift and have completely reversed my stance on socks for Christmas. If I'd grown up in Iceland though, my opinion of Christmas socks would have been very different as a young boy.

That's because Iceland is home to the Jólakötturinn, or Yule Cat, the giant cat who eats children who haven't received new clothes by the time Christmas rolls around. So new socks could end up being a lifesaving gift.

The story of the Yule Cat likely dates back to the 19th century, or perhaps even earlier. According to Icelandic tradition, anyone who finished their chores before Christmas would get new clothes as a reward, while lazy kids who didn't do their chores would face the Yule Cat's wrath.

The massive Yule Cat prowls around Iceland on Christmas night, checking windows to see who got new clothes and who didn't. If you're a naughty child, the Yule Cat would eat you.

“This is the kind of message Icelanders like to send out in their folklore,” Haukur S. Magnússon writes for the Reykyavík Grapevine. “If you do not have the money or means of acquiring new items of clothing before the festival of lights, you will be eaten by a gigantic cat.”

Smithsonian Magazine reports the threat of the Yule Cat is also meant to inspire generosity in children who don't need to worry about the Yule Cat eating them. Because giving less-fortunate kids new clothes would save them from the Yule Cat. According to folklore, the Yule Cat is owned by trolls, collectively known as the Yule Lads. They apparently eat kids too.

Here's the full Yule Cat poem as performed by Icelandic superstar Bjork, to give you a little more context.

Pretty scary, right?

So if your kids complain about socks this year, just tell them, "I was trying to save you from the Yule Cat." I'm sure they'll appreciate it.

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