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I recently heard a podcast on Christmas creatures from foreign lands and faraway cultures. Most of them come from Northern Europe and nearly all of these critters are gruesome if not downright vicious. It seems America has the only Christmas figure (Santa Claus) who doesn’t come at Christmas with someone or something terrible to frighten the children and/or evoke violence. As a Jungian I find this quite sensible; Shadow is everywhere and must be recognized as the balance to The Light/Consciousness. Our Santa has a meager lump of coal for his Shadow energy – very unsatisfactory.

I was especially titillated and intrigued by an Icelandic Christmas creature called Jolakotturinn, A.K.A The Yule Cat. This is no sweet-purring graymalkin pussy-kins no indeed! The big J is a huge and vicious cat said to prowl about at Christmas time. It (for the sex is not clear) pounces upon and eats people as if they were sparrows. It attacks the folks who haven’t received any new clothes to wear before Christmas Eve.  Apparently The Yule Cat isn’t just some pagan story whitewashed for Christianity’s sake but a nefarious capitalist tool. Wool-farmers told the tale as an incentive for their workers to work hard and finish the wool trade before winter time. Thems who did so got new clothes while thems that were indolent and failed to finish their work or who organized into Icelandic Unions got nothing and became Kibbles for The Yule Cat.

On the whole this wacky notion of a monster cat with a fancy for fashion faux-pas makes a much more marvelous Christmas tale than boring old Kris Kringle. I imagine Icelandic parents telling their children they better put away last seasons Pradas for that new Lands End sweater before they go out a-viking lest they be torn to pieces.

The morbid part of me is pleased as punch to discover this jewel of a Yule cat. It was quickly indoctrinated into my pantheon of Christmas sourpusses consisting of The Grinch, The Krampus, and The JWs.

All hail and welcome Jolakotturinn!

Thank goodness I remembered to wear my new Derek Roses.


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December 2018

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018