Showing posts with label Christmas Eve. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas Eve. Show all posts

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Wild Tuerst and Straeggele of Christmas

From Switzerland: the Wild Tuerst and Straeggele of Christmas Tide

In ancient times a beautiful daughter of a rich man lived in the Entlibuch in the hill country outside of Luzerne. True, she had both beauty and riches, but the townspeople did not like her. It was because she led a wild, unseemly life. Instead of behaving properly like other girls, the young maid whistled through her fingers, called out to her hunting dog and then blew into her horn. Early in the morning she took off in hot pursuit of all manner of wild animals.  Deer and stag, even the ferocious wolf fled from her when she, raving, shouting and waving her spear, entered the forest.  Then her dog yapped loudly and from every mountain crevice came a terrifying echo.
The years passed in this manner and soon the wild maid no longer went to church. While other people were called to mass when the church bells rang, she took up the spear and ran with her dog into the forest to hunt the wild beasts. The town folk all shook their heads and said things would end badly for her. The demonic Tuerst would come and fetch the wanton maid, they murmured, when it flew through the forest like the storm wind.
One Christmas Eve there was a knock at the door where the rich daughter of Entlibach resided. When the servant opened he saw a young, slim man standing at the gate who asked for a night’s lodging. In the morning he said he would go out with the maid on a friendly hunt. Both man and maid servant recoiled when they heard these words, but they had to allow the late guest to enter the house, even if he did not appear to be a knight.
The beautiful daughter greeted the man with a loud “hello”. He replied that he loved the hunt above everything else. And so it was decided that the next morning the two would set out on Holy Christmas Eve to undertake a wolf hunt in the nearby mountain forest. The girl did indeed notice that the lean knight had not said from where he came, but she did not think long about it. The main thing was that she had found a handsome and agile hunting partner for the following day.
The next morning when the bells in the church tower rang out, villagers came from all around. All but the strange knight. He said to the maiden: “Leave these people, let them go into the church. Come! We shall go out on the hunt!”
So they were of good cheer, laughing and carousing, equipped with their spear and bow, they went out into the night accompanied only by the maid’s hunting dog. On their way to mass, the church folk passed the wild pair and watched how the revelers disappeared in the forest.
It was not long before they were deep within the dark wood. The maid was just about to take her spear and fling it after a deer, when her strange hunting companion gripped her raised arm and said in an icy voice and with eyes that burned through her like fire: “It is true I hunt the beasts of the forest, but you have never once listened to your conscience. You have committed sacrilege against God! Now you are mine and shall be like me! You shall fill people full of terror!”
He stretched upward and grew and grew into a giant. In revulsion the maid recognized that it was the Wild Tuerst. She screamed, she ran, how gladly she would have run into the church! But it was too late. The huntsman grew without stopping. She, too, grew alongside the fearsome hunter, until she was taller than the trees. The barking dog next to her also grew until he had become a monster. At once the wild Tuerst  began to storm across hill and dale, until it finally seemed as if all the wild creatures in the forest were raging.
The villagers, who were still making their way to church, witnessed the procession of these giant figures. They saw in the pale light how a dark abyss opened in the ground, and how it then swallowed the Tuerst and the Straeggele.  
After that Christmas Eve when the wild maid did not return home, word of her fate spread among the villagers. The Tuerst had fetched the Straeggele and the pair would now have to go out hunting until judgment day. For many years on starry winter evenings when the wind whistled around the houses, the villagers often saw two shadowy giants with their dog storming across the bleak sky. And if they heard a bell ring somewhere in the distance, they said it was the Straeggle – maid. But then the Tuerst only blew harder into his horn so that the villagers had to pull the coverlets over their eyes and hide in terror.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

On Christmas Eve, No Visions of Sugar Plums for These Fairy Tale Characters

The 16th century report of Martin Luther is perhaps an apt introduction to the following saga. He relates that “…young maidens stripped themselves naked, flung themselves to the ground and prayed: O God, my God, O St. Andrew, give me a godly husband, show me tonight what manner of man shall wed me. One girl, he adds, was nearly frozen to death, but no man came.” (Quoted from the Oxford Book of Days, Oxford University Press). The time from St. Andrew’s Eve (November 29) until New Year’s Eve was a time for young maids to receive visions of their future husbands. Here is another Grimm’s saga about this custom:

Grimms’ Saga No. 118

On Christmas Eve in Coburg several maidens gathered together. They had a burning desire to see their future true love. The day before they had gathered and cut nine different types of wood. When midnight came, they made a fire on the hearth with this wood. The first girl threw off her clothes, tossed her blouse in front of the chamber door and spoke these words as she sat before the fire:

“Here I sit, completely starkers,
If only my dearest would come
And throw my blouse into my lap!”

When the blouse was thrown back into the room, the maiden caught a glimpse of the face of the person who would later became her suitor. The other girls also stripped themselves naked. But they threw out their blouses tangled together in a clump. The ghosts could not separate the pieces and began to make noises and crash about until the girls were quite frightened. They quickly poured water on the fire and crept back into bed, where they stayed until early in the morning. When they awoke they found their blouses torn into many thousands of little pieces.

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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Fairy Tales for Christmas Tide

5. Frau Holla zieht umher
5. Frau Holla is stirring....

Frau Holla begins her wanderings on Christmas Eve, for this is when goodwives bind new scraps of cotton or flax around their spindles. The spindles are then left out over night. If Frau Holla sees them, she says:

"So many a hair
So many a good year."

Frau Holla repeats this every evening until New Year's or Three Kings' Day. Then she must return to her Horselberg; but when she returns if she finds flax on the spindle she becomes very angry and says:

"So many a hair
So many a bad year."

That is why every evening when work is done the maidservants carefully remove from their spindles whatever they have not spun so that the spindles are bare and no evil befalls them. But it's even better if they are able to spin off all the bound batting before the end of the day.

6. Frau Hollen Bad
6. Frau Holla's Bath

There is a place in Hessen called Meissner where there is a large moor or lake. Often the water is murky and the place is called Frau Holla's Bath. Old folks tell how they have seen Frau Holle bathing in the murky water at mid-day and then see her vanish. The hills and moors in the entire region are filled with ghosts; travelers or hunters often become confused, lured away or harmed.

7. Frau Holla und der treue Eckart
7. Frau Holla and True Eckart

There is a village in Thuringia named Schwarza or Darkish. On Christmas Eve Frau Holla moves about the village and in the front of the pack True Eckart walks, warning people to get out of the way so that they are not harmed. Once, a few farm boys had just purchased beer in the pub and they wanted to carry it home. Suddenly the ghostly parade appeared before them. The ghosts took up the entire width of the street so the village chaps with their jugs turned away and receded into a corner. No sooner done than several crones separated themselves from the procession, took the jugs and drank them empty. The boys held their tongues out of fear and did not know how they would be received at home when they returned with empty jugs. Finally, True Eckart came round the corner and said: "Good that you did not say peep; tell no one what happened. Your jugs will always be full of beer and they will never break." The boys did this and it was as True Eckart said. The jugs were never empty. The boys were able to follow the advice for three days. But finally, they could conceal their secret no longer and told their parents. Their luck ran out and the little jugs dried up. Others said this did not happen on Christmas Eve but at a different time.

314 Der getreue Eckart/Deutsche Sagen

This is what is said about True Eckart: that he sits in front of the Venusberg or Hoeselberg and warns anyone who wants to enter. Johann Kennerer, Pastor at Mansfeld, his age over eighty years, told the story of how in Eisleben and in the entire Mansfeld area a raging army passed by every year on the eve of the feast of Thorn's Day. People ran to see the spectacle and waited as if it was nothing other than a powerful Kaiser or King who was passing by. In front of the troop walked an old man with a white staff. He called himself True Eckart. This man told the people to get out of the way, also said to many they must return home or experience harm. Endless hordes followed this man, endless throngs followed and people were seen in their midst who had recently died in the places and some were seen, who were still living. One rode on a horse with two legs. Another was bound to a wheel and the wheel rolled on its own. A third man was seen running furiously with his legs over his shoulders. Another man did not have any head and a piece without any dimensions. This happened recently in Franken and you can often see this in Heidelberg on the Neckar. The raging army appears in wild, deserted places, in the air, in the dark, with hounds bellowing, blowing of hunting horns and bellowing of wild animals. Often you can see rabbits running ahead and hear pigs grunting.

8. Frau Hola und der Bauer
8. Frau Holla and the Farmer

Once, when Frau Holla went out, she met a farmer with an axe. She said that he should cut or hack out a path for her. The day laborer did as she commanded and when the work was finished she said "Gather up the chips and take them as my gratitude," then she went her way. To the man, this seemed a futile and useless reward so he left most of the chips lying on the ground. He took only one or three pieces with him out of boredom. When he came home and looked in his bag, the chips had changed to sparkling gold. He turned around at once to retrieve the others left lying; but no matter how hard he looked it was too late and nothing was left behind.

117. Die Christnacht
117. Christmas Eve

In the early morning on Christmas Eve Day, superstitious maids buy a roll in the baker's shop for a Pfennig and always a bun with an end piece that is closed off. They cut off a bit of the crust, tie it under their right arm and work diligently the entire day. Afterward when they go to bed, they place the crust under their pillow on Christmas Eve and say:

"Now I lay down to sleep with bread by me,
If only my true love came and ate with me!"

At midnight some of the bread crust should be gnawed and in the morning you can tell whether or not the maid will marry her true love during the year. If the bread was left untouched, there is little hope. It also supposedly happened (in 1657 in Leipzig) that two slept in one bed. One had such a bread crust under her pillow, the other not. The other one heard a creaking and gnawing and was afraid and shook her bedfellow until she awoke from her dreams. When they looked at the bread in the morning, the form of a cross had been eaten out of it. The woman soon found a soldier as husband.

An old woman in Saale Fields says that others take a vessel with water and measure out the water with a certain small measuring cup, pouring it into another vessel. They do this endless times to see whether in the repeat measurements they find more water than the first time. From this they tell whether the following year will increase their possessions and goods. If they find the one and same measure, they believe their fate will stand still and bring neither fortune nor misfortune. But if in the end there is less water, they believe that their prosperity will decline. The Saale Field woman had the second thing happen to her.

Others take a bowl of peas and a ball of twine, bind the twine fast to the bowl and wind the ball until it can run no more than before. Now they let go it, releasing one yard or six. They now hang the contraption out of the window and move it from one side to another on the outer walls and say: "Listen, listen!" From the side area they should hear the voice, to whom they must come to free and to live with. Others reach their hands out of the door and when they pull their hands back in, have several hairs from their future true love.