Monday, November 26, 2012

K.A.C. 2012 - T - 29 ...

It's Strange Christmas Customs Day here at the K.A.C. - after the constant drubbing our buddy Krampus got last year, I thought I would give him a year off for good behavior. The problem arose, however, of who would take up his slack? Hmmm ... 

     Not to worry! Enter the  Jólakötturinn, the Iceland Christmas Cat! Good kitty, NICE kitty ... everybody loves kitties, right? Consider your answer carefully, especially if you are a lazybones - 'cause this precocious puss has no problem at all with EATING YOU UP if you don't have new clothes on! WHAT ??? It's true! Go read about him and more (including my personal favorite, the Gävle Goat) here (and make sure you click on the link to read the horrifying Christmas Cat poem)!  

           "Kitties - pshaw! I'm not scared of any CAT!" OK, then try THIS on for size! This big bad boy to your right is one of a pre-Christian race of Basque giants known a jentillak, a "mythological race of Basque giants living in the Pyrenees. Legend has it that they observed a glowing cloud in the sky one day. None of them could look at this bright cloud except for a very old, nearly blind man. When asked to examine it, he confirmed their fears and told them that it was a sign that Jesus will be born soon. According to some stories, the old man asked the giants to throw him off a cliff to avoid having to live through Christianisation. Having obliged him, the giants tripped on the way down and died themselves except Olentzero.
Other versions have the jentillak simply leaving, with only Olentzero remaining behind to embrace Christianity".
    (Description courtesy of Wikipedia)

What's all this have to do with Christmas? Over time, Olentzero evolved from that strapping dolmen-sitter into this cherubic equivalent of Santa Claus at left. Jolly fat man, right? Aside from not fitting down ANYBODY'S chimney, what's not to love? Wait for it ...
 "In Basque communities, Olentzero comes to town on Christmas Eve to deliver children’s holiday gifts. Although Olentzero—an overweight man who wears a beret, smokes a pipe, and dresses like a Basque farmer—is now a beloved character who comes bearing gifts, he used to have some violent enforcer-type aspects to his personality; children heard that if they didn’t go to sleep, Olentzero would hurl a sickle down the chimney. The message was clear: go to sleep or Olentzero will come cut your throat."  =:O !!! Thanks to the Mental Floss blog for that bit of Christmas Cheer!



  We'll wrap up our carnival of December Diabolicalness with a return to Iceland and my vote for Best Worst character of them all ... the Gryla. How bad is she? Take it away, Mental Floss! "Naughty children in Iceland have to fear being caught by Gryla, an ogress who lives in a mountain cave but comes out each year to plague bad kids during Christmas. During the 18th century, Gryla was such a terrifying figure—her mythology at the time included eating the bad children, not just scaring them—that a public decree banned the use of Gryla to strike terror in the hearts of the poorly behaved."

     To read more about her, go here:

     At this point, I'm rethinking the whole "I want presents this year" thing ... even Krampus is scared!  Back with more tomorrow!


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