Thursday, December 13, 2018

5+1 little known Christmas folktales (Following folktales around the world)

Since there is only one Following folktales around the world post left for this year - and that post is also the last country from Europe - I wanted to make a special collection of Christmas stories that I have encountered on the journey so far.

Every year, storytellers frantically search for new tales to tell around the winter holidays. There is an entire publishing industry built on Christmas stories, and there are classics that never go away - from The Gift of the Magi to Christmas Spiders. While reading stories from the three continents I completed in the challenge, I encountered some folktales that are not very well known in the storytelling community, but would make a great addition to the holiday lineup.
In no particular order, here they are:

El palo del ocote 
A young boy learns from his grandmother that one should talk to trees, because they listen. So, he makes friends with a Montezuma pine in the mountains, and invites it home for Christmas. While everyone laughs at the boy's attempt to make a tree friend, on Christmas eve the giant tree does show up at the house to celebrate with the family.

Anancy and Sorrel
Anancy the Trickster wants to go to the Christmas market, but has nothing to sell or barter. He finds some pretty red flowers, and he decides to pick them and sell them - but people suspect the trickster of trying to cheat them, and chase him around until he dumps the flowers into a pot of boiling water. The water turns red and tastes good, so people start adding spices and fruit to it. And thus, sorrel, a Jamaican Christmastime drink is born.

The Fairies' Mist Gate
The fairies kidnap a little boy's baby sister on Christmas eve, so he sets out to rescue her with the help of a talking cat, a donkey, and a church Grim. They have to get through the mists surrounding the fairy hill, and take the baby while keeping the Little Folk away. A tale of adventure, teamwork, and magic.

Hildur, Queen of the Elves
The tale starts with a mystery - every Christmas eve, a shepherd dies on a farm - and leads into a nighttime journey to the land of the Elves. Hildur, a servant at the farm, turns out to be a fairy queen in exile, who can only travel home to see her family once a year, until her curse is broken by a brave mortal who is willing to accompany her.

Two poor children set out into the winter forest on the night of Reyes (the night of January 6th, when the Three Wise Men bring gifts to Spanish children) to find the Wise Men and point them to their little cottage. Instead, they encounter a mysterious lady who sends the on a quest to an enchanted castle. In the end, they do get an abundance of gifts for their bravery.

The mischievous sons of Father Frost
In this fun Estonian folktale a poor farmer receives three visitors in a row. Each is a son of Father Frost, and they make life of their gracious host increasingly uncomfortable by filling his house with ice and still complaining about the heat. The eldest one, however, turns out to be doing good work - winter cold is needed just as summer heat - and he gifts the patient farmer two bags (one hot and one cold) so that he can manage the weather over his own fields.

Today is the last #FolkloreThursday of the year. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year, everyone!


  1. What a great selection! The only one I knew was Hildur Queen of the Elves. Thank you for bringing these little-known tales to the surface, they deserve to be told.