Christmas is all about spreading joy, receiving gifts and spending time with your loved ones. Well, unless you’re a child who misbehaved throughout the year, then the holidays may not be as exciting as you wish. While no child would ever want to receive coal as a gift from Santa Claus, this may not be the only way to keep naughty children at bay. Other countries have much harsher Christmas spirits, and stories about them leave kids completely horrified. One of them is the Icelandic legend of Jólakötturinn, also known as the Yule Cat, who eats children (and sometimes adults) who don’t receive any new clothes before Christmas night.

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While these days receiving clothes for Christmas may be the equivalent of getting coal, it was completely different during the Dark Ages in Iceland. Back in the day, all family members were tasked with chores related to wool production.

Since the only thing a family could afford for Christmas was woolen clothes as gifts, it was only possible if everyone completed their tasks in time. Thus the legend of Jólakötturinn was born, to scare children and lazy adults into completing their work.

It’s clear that Jólakötturinn is not a friendly kitty. This enormous cat peeks through the windows looking for children who didn’t receive their precious clothes during Christmas night.

The cat then hunts them down and eats the naughty kids for dinner. Terrifying, isn’t it?


Right before the holidays, the PBS series Monstrum, hosted by Dr. Emily Zarka, prepared a story on this gruesome feline. You can watch it below.

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