The world has long since been fascinated with Scandinavian culture, whether it’s their simplistic home decor or the integral cultural concept of ‘Hygge’. However, something that is also really interesting is some of the folklore they have and how totally different it is from that in the United States. They have folklore that suggests that there are a whole bunch of races and beings that exist and represent the forces of good and evil but wait, it gets better.
Popular fictional races
If you’ve ever taken a look at a fantasy movie or novel and wondered where it all came from, well, Scandinavian countries have a lot to answer for. Two of the best-known Scandinavian folklore creatures are the elves and the dwarves. Yup, you heard that right, those mythical beings we feel we know so much about. They’re where those stereotypes come from, so why are dwarves always short, stout and have beards? Because that’s how they’re imagined in Scandinavian folklore.
The tailed Huldra
She actually has the name ‘The Seductive Huldra’, who is supposed to be a creature wandering the forest, but has the added bonus of being attractive to those who see her. The quirk she carries with her is that she also has a tail, a very long tail. The reason she was considered ‘seductive’ is so she could use her feminine charms to lure unknowing men into her den so that she could take their souls. The story changed, however, with the arrival and influence of external religion, and the story changed. Instead, the Huldra had to convince a man to marry her inside a church, where then her tail would fall off, she would become human, and her beauty would fade.
Mare is kind of like the sandman, except she is portrayed as being the bringer of nightmares. The way she does this is by sitting on a man while he is sleeping and forcing him to have bad dreams. While it seems like quite a basic concept, we’re sure that it was terrifying for people who believed that she existed.
Nökken is described as a mysterious male water creature, although it could take on many shapes and sizes. Instead of hearing another female creature ensnaring unwitting men in their grasp, Nökken was said to enjoy tricking everyone he could. Described as a dark monster, who would only let his eyes rise above the surface to watch his prey, he would then present himself as an attractive young man. If the victim were a woman, he would trick her into the water, before ending her life. If it were a child, he would turn into a beautiful horse for them to ride. In all his incarnations, it all meant the end for whoever was enchanted by him.
This creature and story were based on real events that influenced the people. ‘The Black Death’ hit people hard and was devastating for millions of people. Norway lost half its population while Denmark lost a third. Pesta was the incarnation of people’s grief and of ‘The Black Death’. It was described as an old and haggard woman carrying a broom and a rake, dressed entirely in black. She supposedly spread the disease and is often a symbol for Scandinavian people today.
Probably some of the most exciting and fascinating folklore has come out of Scandinavian countries, and continues to influence the world today.