Cats can often be seen strolling around; while there is a cat shelter there, most of these patrolling felines have owners and are just on walkabouts. Someone seriously posted in an Iceland travel site that she wanted to "see cats" when she was in town. Nobody thought it was weird or funny, and a local Icelander charmingly answered her by stating the names of streets on which cats can usually be found.
It's estimated that there may be as many as 20,000 cats in the city, or one for every ten people. In contrast, dogs were banned in Reykjavik from 1924 to 1984!
The most interesting Icelandic cat is the Yule Cat. This sounds kind of nice, like a fluffy kitten in a Santa hat. But it's not! In Icelandic folklore, the Yule Cat is giant and terrifying. It prowls around Iceland on Christmas Eve, looking for lazy people who haven't done their chores, especially children, although it doesn't sound like anyone is safe.
Supposedly if you did your chores before Christmas you were rewarded with new clothes. Some people say that this tradition was started by farmers as an incentive for workers to finish processing the autumn wool. Those who did got new clothes. Those who didn't, well...
If the Yule Cat looks in your window and sees you with a package that looks like clothes, it will hiss and move on. If not, it will eat all your food before eating you!
Although I love cats, just to be on the safe side, as I bought Christmas presents I also added in a new sweater for myself. It's just common sense!
|Image from National Geographic|