Iceland's Christmas Cat

There is an Icelandic legend, that is more than 200 years old. It says that unless you receive at least one new garment to wear for Christmas, you "will be caught by the Christmas Cat".

The Christmas Cat was portrayed as a kind of a "monster kitty" that originally came from the the north - somewhere near the North Pole perhaps....

Although an ancient tale, today parents still tell of it... to make sure that all children received a new piece of clothing at the yuletide.

This is a translation of an icelandic poem about this mythic kitty...

You all know the Christmas Cat
And that Cat was huge indeed.
People didn't know where he came from
Or where he went.
He opened his glaring eyes wide,
The two of them glowing bright.
It took a really brave man
To look straight into them.
His whiskers, sharp as bristles,
His back arched up high.
And the claws of his hairy paws
Were a terrible sight.
He gave a wave of his strong tail,
He jumped and he clawed and he hissed.
Sometimes up in the valley,
Sometimes down by the shore.
He roamed at large, hungry and evil
In the freezing Christmas snow.
In every home
People shuddered at his name.
If one heard a pittiful "meow"
Something evil would happen soon.
Everybody knew he hunt men
But didn't care for mice.
He picked on the very poor
That no new garments got For Christmas
Wwho toiled and lived in dire need.
From them he took in one fell swoop
Their whole Christmas dinner
Always eating it himself
If he possibly could.
Hence it was that the women
At their spinning-wheels sat
Spinning a colorful thread
For a frock or a litle sock.
Because you mustn't let the Cat
Get hold of the litle children.
They had to get something new to wear
From the grownups each year.
And when the lights came on, on Christmas eve
And the Cat peered in,
The little children stood rosy and proud
All dressed up in their new clothes.
Some had gotten an apron
And some had gotten shoes
Or something that was needed
That was all it took.
For all who got something new to wear
Stayed out of that pussy-cat's grasp
He then gave an awful hiss
But went on his way.
Whether he still exsists
I do not know.
But his visit would be in vain
If next time everybody
Got something new to wear.
Now you might be thinking of helping
Where help is needed most.
Perhaps you'll find some children
That have nothing at all.
Perhaps searching for those
That live in a light-less world
Will give you a happy day
And a merry merry Christmas.

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