Trolls! with the Boiler Elf


Bookworm Hienrichs: Well, I believe we’ll get started! Welcome to this month’s Aether Salon! Today, the Boiler Elf makes another appearance to regale us with more of the… darker side of Christmas. And now, to introduce our speaker, please turn your attention to Baron Klaus Wulfenbach.

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: The Boiler Elf needs little introduction, being Steam Santa’s foremost assistant. Because of this, he is well versed in the traditions and histories of this holiday approaching. Herr Elf, if you might begin?

Mosseveno Tenk: merry christmas!
Mosseveno Tenk puts his hand to his ear
Pippy: Merry Christmas to you too!
Mosseveno Tenk clears his throat
Mosseveno Tenk: i said merry christmas!
Pippy: MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Garnet Psaltery: MERRY CHRISTMAS
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Crăciun fericit.
Bookworm Hienrichs: Merry Christmas!
Vic Mornington: MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Ceirwyn: Merry Christmas!
Janet Rhiadra: merry christmas
Dee Wells: Merry Christmas
Solace Fairlady: Merry Christmas!
Mosseveno Tenk: oh, c’mon, show some spine
Mosseveno Tenk: i know you aren’t all christians.
Avariel Falcon: Solstice blessings ^_^
Janet Rhiadra: blessed Solstice
Fauve Aeon: Joyus Yule and Happy Krampus!
Garnet Psaltery: I saw Merry Yule :o)
Mosseveno Tenk: one thing i can’t stand is an insincere holiday greeting.
Elina Koskinen: Hyvää joulua
Tepic Harlequin: Nadolig Llawen
Mosseveno Tenk: hmpf
Mosseveno Tenk: there we go!
Mosseveno Tenk: much better.
Elina Koskinen: God Jul
Fauve Aeon: ok, then…gimmie a prezzie, that’s honest 🙂
Elina Koskinen: Frohe Weihnacht
Mosseveno Tenk: ah, american materialst!
Fauve Aeon: yus!
Vic Mornington: lang may yer lum reek
Mosseveno Tenk grins
Zanya: Feliz Navidad!
Fauve Aeon: well, and Yulenog, I am making some
Mosseveno Tenk: and thears a reindeer an yer ruff
Pippy: Merry Christmas, Happy Hannakah, Kwanza greetings, and Politically Correct Solstice Sun day
Elina Koskinen: happy solstice too
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach (klauswulfenbach.outlander): Hm, no Jewish greetings today but for that one.
Mosseveno Tenk: so i looked over what we talked about last year, and apologize to miss H for not providing a cleaned up transcript, because we all know how rotten my keyboarding is.
now you all know kevin, who makes me type so badly
when he was a boy, he was taken to see santa claus
and having the romantic nature that is common to all us geeks and nerds, he wanted so very very badly to believe
oh yes he did
BUT
kevin has a freeze frame burned into his memory from a preschool expedition to the back of Macy’s
of that point where the false beard was viewed from the side, not connected to the face, and an obvious middle aged stubble underneath the white floss of the beard
so he could not believe. would not
and it pained him so
to this day
he has searched for the on true Claus
but i’ll tell you more about that later.

today, with the rise of real bearded santa clauses, it is unlikely that any child will have to relive that traumatic skepticism
in fact, for the ultimate real bearded santa claus vacation for your kids, you need to get on a plane to finland
and then get on a snowmobile to visit satan in his office in Roveinemi
and Mr Holmes, i have no idea how to pronounce or spell your words

Solace Fairlady: ooops Freudian slip
Elina Koskinen: Rovaniemi is the correct name
Elina Koskinen: not Roveinemi

Mosseveno Tenk: to my right here is joulopukki, the finnish santa claus. who is widely regarded to be the one true santa today.
Elina Koskinen: Joulupukki
Elina Koskinen: Yule Goat
Elina Koskinen: pukki = goat

Mosseveno Tenk: this was widely propagated by a webcam feed that i think has since shut down because it was so popular, where you could watch groups of tourists in snow suits visiting santa.
they even had one that spoke japanese
i watched that feed for more hours than i care to admit.
next to that picture, are some historical drawings of the finnish santa
and you need to know these are fakes that were drawn for the movie, Rare Exports
which i highly recommend

Elina Koskinen: notice that they are indeed goats
Elina Koskinen: (remember we just burned down a goat?XD)

Mosseveno Tenk: my favorite christmas movies i have picked for their lore of the north and rooting santa in mythology,
they are Rare Exports
Santa’s Slay, with the wrestler Bob Goldberg
which has a great scene in front of a christmas dinner getting completely destroyed
which is even funnier when you realize all the actors in the scene are jewish
i also like Trollhunter, not a christmas movie per se, but excellent for the northern mythos
and Elf

well, to study clausology, is to study dynamic mythology
if batman is our hero figure, then santa approaches godhood, with a little g
and we know where both these stories started, and we can watch how they change over time
and how they don’t change
which is not only fascinating, but it gives you some valuable insights when you go back and read ancient mythology, which also changes as the cultures expand and contract.
lemme change one of those photos. i’d like everyone to open a browser and go to a google images search page.
i’d like to introduce you to some characters you may not know about, and you need to see what they look like.

Mosseveno Tenk: right. let’s start with some one’s that don’t have much to do with trolls
look for black peter
black peter, americans cannot look out without getting the cultural heebie jeebies
this is a dutch character that follows sinterklaas. he is a slave. from the renaissance era.
sinterklass arrives in holland by ship, from spain, so peter is a depiction of a moorish slave.
to our current sensibilities in the US, this is a really shocking image.
there is a lot of controversy about it, but this is all very normal to the dutch culture, and who are we to say how they should celebrate. traditions die hard.
moving on

next up is the christmas log of spain
your search term is
christmas shitting man spain
now you may see the log there with the two legs. the log is hollow
and in the festive family ceremony, the log is filled with candy, and covered with a cloth
and everyone beats the log with sticks while screaming shit! shit!
now if you scroll around, you may see a giant mall display
that is quite real
the realistic shitting man appears in nativity scene
i got no idea what this is about
so lets move on

now we’re going to be looking at some very ancient characters. some pagan, some medieval
and i’m only going to be dealing with western europe
in your head, imagine western europe as a cultural sink, with a drain at Rome
now the sink is filling up, from Rome
and the culture of christian rome is spreading over western europe, drowning out the local cultures
so where are we going to look for our monster?
well, up high
and at the edges
and i might go further and say you need to get out on the ground to those places where everyone still looks like each other to really find the pagan roots
which is a strange thought for us americans. where we don’t all look like each other
finland. iceland. the last 2 countries to be christianized. correct me if i’m wrong, but i think finland wasn’t christianized until the 14th century

Elina Koskinen: Correct
Elina Koskinen: it was the 12th century when the swedes started to do crusades

Mosseveno Tenk: and i read on google books one night that a brownie was found in a field in sweden (?) and exorcised by a pair of mormon missionaries. that means it was after 1830
Elina Koskinen: but Finns staid with pagan believes way until the 1900s
Mosseveno Tenk: Thank you Mr Holmes. My Finnish culture checker!
glad you are here

so let’s start in italy
your next search word is
la befana
also knows as babushka in the east.
this is a very old character, as she appears in the eastern and western traditions.
yes, a witch!
she follows the three wise men, who called her to follow them to see the child
but she was too busy, and said she would come later.
so now she is paying for that
rewarding the good children and punishing the naughty
i’d call her a convert
since she seems to be a believer but is acting independently

Wildstar Beaumont: “La Befana vien di notte
Con le scarpe tutte rotte
Col vestito da romana*
Viva viva la Befana!”

Mosseveno Tenk: excellent, more cuture checkers!
from italy , we have to climb the alps to switzerland
let’s look for
wilder man images
on the other side of the stage i have an image of a european wild man and a swiss wild man
the wild men are more associated with shrovetide, but you may see the pine wild man on christmas cards, probably because he looks like a christmas tree
i want you to look at the green men in those images. i tried to isolate the search , but could not
they are covered in pine boughs, or lichen , or in scotland, the burry man appears in august, covered in burrs
you might see him on that page with his arms spread, because he can barely move in that suit
wild men are not really christmas characters, but this is the time when we like weird looking things that live in snowy mountains, right? so i mention them
another wilder lived in greece, if you watch Grimm you got introduced this year

next word is
Kallikantzaros
this are horrible bloodthirsty gremlins that live underground
but come up for the 12 days of christmas and cause all sorts of hate and discontent
isn’t that just adorable?
to protect yourself, you need to keep your fire lit
so they can’t come down the chim
and put a colander on your doorstep
because he will obsessively count all the holes rather than come inside
when i searched, i got a picture of a green goblin sitting with a colander counting all the holes.

right so let’s go to germany, via the alps
and now search for
krampus
krampus is still pagan, but he has been tamed.
st nicolas allows him some freedoms during the christmas season starting dec. 6th
and he fades away when their wives, the perchten, come down from the mountains
perchta is far worse than krampus
she will gut the naughty and stuff them with straw and sawdust and sew them back up so the family won’t know
please take a look at perchten
i would say perchta is still wild. she has no handler.
in germany, and france, nicholas has a lot of followers. usually dark scary men, if not the krampus
they have names like Schmultzli, Knecht Ruprect
is Myrtil here? what is the one in France?
he was a butcher,
and lured 3 boys into his shop to rob them, then butchered and ate the evidence.
i didn’t write down his name, and it escapes me Pere something
But don’t worry, Nicholas has tamed him too, and now he does his penance by following him.

another independent operator is belznikle, sometimes called santa in furs
he is a little bit santa, a little bit wild man, and a little bit like the men who follow nicholas
he came to the US with german immigrants and can still be found in Wisconsin.
and the upper midwest, tho he is disappearing quickly as the older generations that are more connected to the culture pass on.

let’s go back to the wilder mann images
i have this book, it is called wilder mann
and if you are into this stuff, it is absolutely gorgeous
most of the characters you are looking at are carnival characters.
that appear during shrovetide

oddly, the most of the surviving christmas characters come from high elevation or the far north
in the carnival characters, you might find mummer characters too, which go to medieval times. these would appear in the streets
going door to door
usually drunken young men in masks
you will see death, lucifer, wild men, bears, stag, and goat
all ancient
death probably is a post plague character
it is hard to say what these plays originally meant, as they have been passed down in families, as an entertainment mostly, or excuse to get drunk in public. the meanings of the masks are lot, tho they survive.

in fact, the topic of mumming is a whole ‘nother salon
let’s look at one tho
she is over to my right
look for mari lwyd
the grey mare
like the familiar stick masks of carnival, this is a skull and stick mask
grey mare lives in wales
she goes door to door, as you can see in this vintage photo
and the host of the door will have to engage in contests of song and rhyme
that’s an intriguing image, and i believe still practiced.

krampus almost died in the mid 20th century. people were tired of the celebrations getting out of hand
and with women’s rights, carrying off pretty girls and whipping their bare legs with switches until they bled just wasn’t funny anymore
but krampus made a comeback, first on the ski slopes
because he really brought the tourists in!
so now there are big parades in austria, if you follow me on facebook i tend to post stuff like that

oh bugger, almost out of time and i didn’t’ get to the trolls
righto. off to scandinavia
let’s go to the worst
next term is gryla
gryla, an ogress
had 13 sons with her lazy 3rd husband
they live on the lava fields of iceland
and the sons come down one by one
now a poem was written about these 13 trolls, who are the Yule Lads
go look for them
so their names are standardized now. first with the sheep clod, who wants to suck the milk from all the sheep, but he can’t bend his knees
and finally the candle snatcher, who will steal your candle so you can’t go to christmas eve vigil
oh, they have a cat too

next word to search yule cat
this is not a nice cat
it will hunt you like your cat hunts mice.

now this family, they are the worst sort of people
in fact, in 1746 a decree was made that parents couldn’t scare their kids with stories about gryla and the yule lads anymore
so it got toned down some
in the late 20th century they started being assimilated by santa claus, and wore the red suit,
or it was said they had one red suit, and the brothers shared it
but now there’s been a call to get them back into traditional icelandic costume, which i think is a good thing.

there are more characters to cover, and i didn’t tell you the end of the story of kevin and his search for santa
so i guess you will have to come back next year to hear about that, with the baron’s indulgence.
questions?

Elina Koskinen: can i ask you to google one more goat ? 😀
Elina Koskinen: it’s the finnish epihpany goat: Nuuttipukki
Mosseveno Tenk: nuuttipukki is scary
Elina Koskinen: Nuuttipukki goes from house to house to gather the rest of christmas stuff
Elina Koskinen: (they are actually people dressed as goats XD)
Elina Koskinen: sort of anti-santa
Tristizia Demonista: yup, nuttiipuuki is scary
Mosseveno Tenk: careful when you look up these images, they are not pleasant. gryla had some gruesome ones
Elina Koskinen: It’s interesting, Nuuttipukki is known only in the southern Finland
Elina Koskinen: and kids go around houses to scare people dressed as nuuttipukki in the town I study in, not where I’m from, 100km to the east XD
Mosseveno Tenk: really? have you ever seen nuttipukki?
Elina Koskinen: I have actually been a nuuttipukki
Elilka Sieyes: *gasp*
Mosseveno Tenk: jealous
Elina Koskinen: In daycare, we dressed our overalls wrong way around and put masks on XD
Elina Koskinen: and went to scared the smaller kids hahaha
Mosseveno Tenk laughs
Elina Koskinen: we got some loot too!
Mosseveno Tenk: nice
Elina Koskinen: a couple of decorative tonttus
Mosseveno Tenk: so you see there’s lots of good story fodder when you dig around.
Mosseveno Tenk: Neil Gaiman is the master of modern mythology
Mosseveno Tenk: and there’s a whole lot of bad YA lit that looks like thinly disguised book reports on when the authors discovered these characters
Elina Koskinen: There are a lot of christmassy things, yes 😀
Mosseveno Tenk: many will appear in game supplements, but rarely in their original form. sadly, i know way too many people that don’t check the sources and think the game manuals are gospel mythology
Mosseveno Tenk: Well. It is a busy time of year. i must return to the north
Mosseveno Tenk: and i will see you again Christmas eve, if your eyes are sharp enough you may even see me.

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