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Friday, 5 December 2014

Magical boys (part 1) WINTER

Jack Frost by Kyomaru

 The charming boy figures in folklore, myths and legends include warriors, gods, heroes and princes. Some of the most famous and popular heroic boys range from heroes who killed giants, dragons and monsters. Knights of chivalry and legend. Mystical young apprentices and wizards. Boys made of wood and machines. And immortals, gods and boys from the fairy realm. There are four seasons and I'll begin the subject in Winter and include boys from the winter theme. 

Jack Frost, found in English folklore. This boy is of the fairyfolk, immortal and a nature spirit. He has the form of a boy, sometimes a man, made entirely of ice crystals. Dripping in sheets of ice, or simply ice coloured, this boy appears late at night in Winter and spends hours moving across the land. In the mornings, traces of Jack Frost remain in the form of sheets of ice on rooftops, tree tops, the grass, on roads, cars, on fences. Frost makes door handles stick. Jack Frost is quite a mischevious but friendly spirit. He's the son of Kári the Norse god of wind and grandson of the giant Fornjot. It's believed that Jack Frost is Frosti Jokul, a boy of ice and sleet, the son of Kári. Jack Frost had two children, Snær, a son whose name "snow", and a daughter named Skjalf, princess of Finland. Despite the ancient myths of Jack Frost, he still appears as a figure of patterned ice in the shape of a young man. 

Father Frost, whose name is also Ded Moroz, is a popular character in Slavic myths and fairytales. He's the Eastern figure of winter, Yule and snow. He appears to look like a man in a hooded fur cloak. He carries a magical staff, and journeys through forests, bringing gifts to children. He was based upon a god of winter who froze people to death. Since the 19th Century he's taken on a much friendlier character when different European countries in the West influenced this one. He appears more loving now and similar to Santa Claus, with his granddaughter Snegurochka "snow maiden" helping.

Santa Claus,  a favourite character loved by all children at Yule. He brings gifts on the eve of christmas day and travels on a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Today he's thought of as jolly and cheerful, with a white-beard, rounded, red cheeked and wearing red. He wasn't always seen like this. Up until the Victorian era, he wore a draping blue coat lined with fur. Many believe that he was a real man called Saint Nicholas of Myra, a Greek 4th Century bishop. He was charitable and gave out presents and food to the vulnerable in society. But the figure of Santa, or Father Christmas, can be found in earlier tales of myth surrounding celebrations of Yule and the Winter Solstice. The Germanic god Odin is a Yule god, who led the Wild Hunt across the sky. He sent gifts to people through their chimneys, sometimes he travelled down chimneys to deliver gifts. He was bearded, wore a hooded cloak, carried a staff and rode on a strange horse.    

Yule Lads, a popular group of supernatural boys from Iceland at the season of midwinter. They come from Iceland, and deliver gifts and food. In earlier times, the Yule Lads were seen as malicious entities that stole children and caused havoc. They were blamed for deaths during winter. Some believed that they could've been trolls but mainly they were the sons of a scary mountain giantess named Gryla. This gang of wicked boys had a pet named the Yule Cat, who was a type of man eating snowy big cat. The Yule Lads spend a couple of weeks before Midwinter in villages, towns and cities, doing bad deeds. There are thirteen of them altogether. Now the Yule Lads have turned into charming, friendly and happier lads bringing presents and cheer!

Tomte, a group of little boys and little men who appear during winter. The tradition of the Tomte is in Scandinavian countries and belong to the fae/fairy folk. They rememble gnomes with glowing eyes. For centuries they were recognised as winter spirits. They can be protective spirits and will look after home and family, but if they're insulted in any way, they can poison the food or even kill. Once feared, they're now seen as magical and shy who leaves presents and like receiving food as a token of thanks.

Holly King, the legendary king of winter and darkness. He appears stronger in one half of the year, winter, and weakest in the second half of the year, summer. His opponent/brother is the Oak King, who is stronger in summer. The Oak King is of the summer solstice, and the Holly King the winter solstice.

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