Christmas Cat Illuminates Lækjartorg Square

Vala Hafstað

With only a month to go till Christmas, Icelanders are busy putting up Christmas lights.

On Friday last week, the main attraction, the Christmas cat, was lit on Lækjartorg square the third year in a row. It stands there, red-eyed and threatening, showing its teeth to passers-by. The cat is five meters high and six meters wide (16x20 ft).

Its design is the result of cooperation between the City of Reykjavík, MK Illumination in Austria and Garðlist gardening firm.

The Christmas cat is part of Icelandic folklore. It has long been said that anyone who isn’t given new clothing for Christmas will be eaten by the cat.

Poet Jóhannes úr Kötlum (1899-1972) described the cat in his poem ‘Jólakötturinn’ (The Christmas Cat) as one that catches people, not mice, but noted that if care is taken to give everyone new clothes for Christmas, the cat will leave them alone.

Placing the cat in the middle of a shopping square surrounded by clothing stores must serve as a powerful incentive for people to keep shopping.

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