It’s that time of year when friends and family reconnect. Parents and grandparents hand down stories from to the next generation, creating legends that are told and retold around the holidays. Here are just two:
Away in a Manger
From the Egyptian Mau to the domestic tabby…they seem to have the resemblance of an M on their head. Why?
It is said that after giving birth, Mary was trying to get some sleep. But, the baby Jesus was restless…until a cat happened to wonder by. After pausing, the cat instinctively jumped into the manger and settled down next to the baby, who peacefully fell asleep snuggled up against the feline.
In gratitude, Mary stoked the forehead of the cat. As she did, the cat received the Mark of Mary. An M appears on the cat’s forehead as a reminder of Mary’s gratitude.
The Christmas Cat of Iceland
In Iceland, there is the tale of Jolakotturinn, also known as the Yule Cat. As the legend goes, it is a large, black cat who eats anyone who does not receive new clothes for Christmas.
It is said the threat of being eaten by the Yule Cat was used by farmers as an incentive for their workers to finish processing the autumn wool before Christmas. The ones who took part in the work would be rewarded with new clothes, but those who did not would get nothing and thus would be preyed upon by the monstrous cat. Recently the legend has been used by parents whose children complain about receiving new clothes for Christmas.
For more information, the perception of the Yule Cat as a man-eating beast was partly popularized by the poet Jóhannes úr Kötlum in his poem Jólakötturinn.
To learn more about the Yule Cat and read the entire poem, check out the December issue of Cat Talk Magazine. Not a subscriber? Sign up today!