So I’ve blogged about yule cat insurance before.
If you’ve just joined us, the Yule Cat [jólakötturinn] is a pretty formidable creature out of Icelandic mythology that eats people who have not received anything new for Christmas. That’s right: EATS those poor little innocents who are forced to go without.
In other words, the Yule Cat is not some furry little kitty-cat you can cuddle with on the sofa. It’s a ravenous, hungry beast that will swallow you whole – UNLESS you get something new to wear at Christmas. And we’re not talking under the tree. That doesn’t count. It has to be before.
It’s pretty amazing just how ingrained this tradition is into Icelandic society. In the past presumably it was used as an incentive for people to work hard to make new clothing before Christmas; today, however, it mostly benefits clothing merchants who are already making a killing, pardon the pun. I don’t believe anyone in the YT household has ever farið í jólaköttinn – a phrase that literally means “gone into the Yule Cat” and figuratively means “been eaten by the beast.”
This year, however, because of the kreppa and everything, both AAH and I decided to tone down our Yule Cat insurance requirements. I, for instance, dug out a perfectly good dress that’s still classic, performed a small alteration, added a new accessory, and VOILA! my new Christmas dress. No need to invest in something new. Same with AAH, who actually broached the subject all on her own a few days ago – a marked departure from the rather stringent demands of the 2007-era.
If the truth be told, I had pretty much settled on being eaten by the Cat this year. Thought it might be kind of interesting, first time and everything. Make do with what I have, and all that. Check out the Belly, have a look around.
BUT – at some subconscious level I felt decidedly uncomfortable with it. And it was at that point that I realized just to what extent I am influenced by the traditions that have been so ingrained in this culture for centuries. When I was small, great care was taken that I didn’t end in the belly of the Yule Cat, and now all these years later I simply cannot NOT buy myself something new for Christmas.
And so, this year, as Yule Cat insurance, I have settled on a rather modest item: a sassy new red lipstick. I figure that will work. I mean – it’s new, and I intend to wear in on Christmas Eve. Granted, it’s not a piece of clothing, but it IS from MAC and it’s not tested on animals, so surely that holds some cred. Right?
Meanwhile, I leave you with old Björk Guðmundsdóttir singing the song about the Yule Cat. Some of the comments accompanying this video on YouTube go on about what a pretty little song it is, but make no mistake, those lyrics are fierce. Jólakötturinn, ladies and gents:
OK, here’s the deal. It was cold this morning. Cold and icy. So cold and icy that there was a terrible, horrible car accident on the road between Hafnarfjörður and Reykjavík in which two people were killed. EPI and I had a romantic getaway planned to Hótel Rangá this evening, to enjoy a Christmas buffet and spend the night. And you know what? We cancelled. Because of the icy roads. I have a bit of a car phobia as it is [several car accidents, two cases of whiplash] and there was no way I was going to undertake two hours of driving in those conditions, each way. Especially after that accident. Right now 2°C [36F] and the wind is picking up. Sunrise at 11.19, sunset at 3.28 pm.