Frau Holle



Mid and I had a conversation the other day on the way home from work.

The end result  is that with the way that I’m shaped like a beach ball and going gray young…I’m eventually going to end up Mrs. Santa Clause.

With that in mind, I thought I would touch on one of the happier, feminine Christmas and Yule legends-Frau Holle.

Depending on source, who Frau Holle (also called Frau Holda) actually is varies. Some suggest that she is an aspect of Frigga, the Norse goddess of the hearth. In some  regions of Europe she falls closer to Baba Yaga,  with a decidedly hag influence. In other areas, she is her own entity in and of herself. She -may- have originally been a dual natured entity, taking on either the hag or the maiden depending on story or region. Regardless of who she is, Frau Holle is a spirit who gifts the community in the winter.

She is often associate with women specifically, or by extension, the areas controlled by women-the hearth and children. However her influence also extends into the winter forest. This connection to the woodlands is extended to her symbols- Frau Holle, perhaps not surprisingly, is associated with holly and other plants that are still green in winter like pines and evergreens. Frau Holle is also associated with snow.

Interestingly, though the citations are vague, she may have been linked to the Wild Hunt. This would be one of the few leaders who were actually seen as being heavily benevolent instead of just morally gray. However, this might also just be an extension of her roles as a winter, forest guardian into similarly themed folklore. It does need to be noted however that when in connection to the hunt, she is connected primarily to the spirits of mothers and children, therefore maintaining her already established folkloric roles. Even though that source had little citations noted, the source list does heavily pull from academic sources, so maybe there is something to it.

The Legend of Frau Holle

Mother Hulda


Holiday Ribbon Art

I’m absolutely terrible with paper art. If there’s no sheep involved, I’m probably mediocre at best.

I’m also a terrible photographer-and my hand tremors combined with an energy drink doesn’t help.

When I get my tree up and my apartment decorated, I’ll get the Nikon out and take better photos. Or have Mid do it for me.

But for all the flaws and all the terrible photos, I really, really love how this came out.

This is also a fairly inexpensive holiday craft that’s very kid-friendly. Just have an adult cut out the shape and the ribbon. I got all of the materials at the dollar store, with the exception of the ribbon-that came from Walmart. I’m sure you could do this as a complete dollar store craft though. Just get the heaviest paper you can. I used photo paper because that’s what they had, but use card stock if you can find it. Stiffer paper makes it easier to cut out.

I got the idea for this craft from According to Matt, who did this in summer colors but I knew I wanted to do this as a winter/Yule/Christmas decoration in my tree colors.

Holiday Ribbon Art

2 (or more) pieces very heavy paper (photo paper, card stock, etc)

Glue Sticks

Cutter Cutter in Christmas theme (I used a star)

1 8.5 x 11 frame, or sized to your paper

Ribbon, assorted colors. Any width is fine



On the back of one of your pieces of paper, trace your cookie cutter. Carefully cut out your shape (I wasn’t as careful as I should have been, but I have this weird superstition about leaving flaws in my work. You may want to have extra paper on hand if you’re more detail oriented than I am).

Place your cut paper over your bottom piece of paper, and mark the edges of the cut out. Your ribbon needs to cover to at least those marks. You can ribbon the entire paper if you want, but for the sake of speed and materials, I just covered a rectangle slightly larger than my star. Tack the ribbon down the the glue stick. The frame will help hold the paper together, but it needs to be down enough that the ribbon won’t move while framing.

You cut the shape out on the back so that the ink marks won’t show. Run the glue stick around that side of the paper and glue the cut sheet to the ribboned sheet so the ribbon shows through.


Place your shape into the frame, and hang. I used a piece of ribbon tied through metal hanger on the back to hang the art. The ribbon colors match my tree.


Bloggers-I have started a new group board on Pinterest. Open to all DIY, craft, food, or other creative blogs, I would love to have you join. Joining instructions are posted on the board-join here.

Please, stop by this week’s Inspired Weekends (Friday)  and  Fall into the Holidays (Tuesdays)

Linked to-

a pinch of joy

the chicken chick     the prairie homestead


i should be mopping the floor


sew can do

frugal by choice


Seasonal Sunday Legends-Gryla


It seems that a lot of world mythology surrounding winter holidays had sort of a back door intention of making kids behave.

If you don’t behave, someone’s going to leave you coal. Or steal you. Or eat you.

Gryla is a similar myth, this time centering in Iceland. She was a not entirely pleasant creature-it’s said that she was a giantess who lived in the mountain caves with her husband and the Yule Cat (more on the Yule Cat later). She had a particular taste for misbehaving-child stew, and parents would warn their children that if they didn’t behave and sleep she would steal them away for dinner. Gryla was an incredibly ugly creature possessing both hooves and tails (yes, multiple tails). It’s a common theme.

Gryla’s reputation became so strong that unlike a lot of the folk figures that appear near Christmas, in the 1700s there was an attempt to ban her legally. Was this move about the story scaring children, or was it more about the control of historic folklore-it wouldn’t be the first time. Either way the story has lasted until now, though Gryla and her cat may not be the most readily recognized Christmas baddie; Krampus probably still has her beat (heh).

Hampton {Christmas Knitting}

Pattern:Real Guy Beanie (on ravelry)

Needles: size 6

Yarn: Woolease, Hampton Twist

I have a friend who veils with some dedication. I veil too, but after some serious prayer, thought and meditation at this point in my life I don’t feel the call to cover with the same level of dedication that she does. But I feel so blessed to see her grow in her faith the way that she has over the past year or so- I don’t tell her the way that I should, but I really do find her to be an inspiration and I find myself growing deeper into my own spirituality the longer I know her.

Anyway, I wanted to make her a Yule gift that was both somewhat practical but reflected ‘her’ somehow. I didn’t want to just give her a cookbook. That would be much more a ‘me’ gift. I found some yarn in my stash that was very close to ‘her’ colors- I would have prefered that the yarn be black and purple but I’ll work with what I have.

Knowing that she veils, I wanted to knit something that she could adapt to a full veil if necessary. I found a basic man’s hat pattern sized for a good sized head and knit it about 2 inches deeper than what the pattern called for (instead of a 5.5 inch long body I knit so that it was a 7.5 inch body).

Even if it doesn’t have the depth to go over the back knot, hopefully she’ll still be able to use it as a head covering that doesn’t scream ‘full wrap’-which is a trait that I love in slouchy hats because I can cover all of my hair and still be pretty under the radar.

Seasonal Sunday Legends- Let the Sacred Fires Burn

This entry is modified from something I wrote for another venue last winter.

The Meaning of the Yule Log

Yule is a celebration of light. Held on the winter solstice, it commemorates the return of the sun in the darkest point of the wheel of the year. The date of Yule has shifted over time so that many of the traditions that were associated with it are now practiced on Christmas, and many of the Yule traditions influenced the development of Christmas imagery. One of the symbols that has held the most direction connection back to the original holiday is the yule log-though it may not be immediately clear to the modern celebrant what a yule log is, and why it’s burned.

The origins of the Yule Log are not completely understood.  What is known is that traditionally, the log was a very large, very hard log that was burned at sundown on Yule (now commonly celebrated on the first day of winter). In some traditions all of the fires in a house or a town were extinguished except for one ember, which was used to light the first fire of winter. The ember was carried from house to house until all of the logs were lit. At the end of the night (or at another time varying from tradition to tradition) the log was extinguished and the same log was used from year to year until it was completely burned and another log was lit. In some historical accounts, the log was burned down until only a chunk was left, then that chunk was lit the next year and used to light the new log.

While traditionally a Yule image, the log has shifted into Christmas festivities throughout many regions of Europe as Yule and Yule-like rituals gave way to Christmas as the predominant winter holiday. The log has been found in traditions ranging from Britain to Germany. In the Americas, the Yule log has been immortalized as a television channel of a burning log that plays throughout the Christmas season. The log has also influenced other Christmas traditions including desserts such as log shaped cakes.

Star Light, Star Bright {Christmas Garland}

There’s a flaw in that photo. I know there’s a flaw in that photo, and it bugs me! But I didn’t notice it in time, and at this point I think it’s earned the right to be there-no such thing as perfection, etc. etc. Like I said further down, this is not my favored yarn.

If you read crafting blogs at all, you know that this is the time of year that everyone works themselves into tornadoes making all sorts of cute, Christmas-y stuff.

I guess the thing with me is, I knit. I used to different crafts-but unless it has to do with fluff or yarn I can’t really do it anymore. So I was feeling pretty sad that people had cute garlands-garlands that would end up in a ball at the bottom of the dumpster if I tried to make my own.

However, I did come up with two balls of Patons Brillant in my stash. I was going to make Christmas ornaments for our tree-it’s silver and blue- but then I realized that ornaments sewn to an i-cord would make a garland.


Star Light, Star Bright Christmas Garland

needles: size 5 for the stars, size 6 for the cord
pattern: Knitting in Color
Yarn: Patons Brillant, approx. 1/2 a skein

-The garland is about 6 feet long
-I had to steek part of the garland’s cord. It ended up about 3 inches too long and I decided it was easier to cut it off than try to rip it out. I sewed off a tight knot and cut on the far side of the knot to get the cord the right length.
-This yarn was horrible. No, really. As someone who’s pretty pro-acrylic I can’t imagine knitting a garment with this stuff, or wearing it. It split all the time and just felt bad. I like the look of the knitted stars, but I would not use this yarn again.
-I added an extra row to the pattern because I can’t work a double decrease into a cast on row with my favorite cast on method. I think it made the stars look slightly more abstract than the ones in the pattern photo.

Right now the garland is above my couch-which is a really horrible place to try and get project photos (nothing like silver stars on a beige wall). I may hang ornaments or Christmas cards off of it just to give it some color.

Please, stop by this week’s Fall Into the Holidays or Inspired Weekends!

Linked to-

ginger snap crafts/christmas wonderful

Seasonal Legends-Reindeer

Original found here

The image of Santa and his reindeer are about as iconic to the Western idea of Christmas as you can get.

Reindeer have been present in American thought about Christmas since 1823. Clement C. Moore’s “A Visit From St. Nicholas” gives Santa Clause a team of 8 reindeer. Two of the reindeer have gone through slight reimaging; Donder and Blitzen were originally Dunder and Blixem. In both cases however their names mean thunder and lightening.

Rudolph, that most famous of reindeers, was introduced in 1939 as part of a marketing campaign for Montgomery Ward. His story also has evolved- originally, Rudolph was Donner’s son and was part of the Santa’s flock of reindeer from the start.

The reindeer (and other horned deer) have a much longer history in mythology than modern Christmas celebrations. The goddess Beiwe was worshipped in far northern Europe (such as Finland, Russia, and Sweden) as a sun deity. Her speciality was allevating winter depression (SAD and other illnesses); her main symbols were butter and reindeer. The reindeer image repeats throughout the folklore of that image, often in the form of shapeshifters or hybrid mythological creatures. This image of the hybrid antlered individual (often male) is echoed througout other regions where antlered animals such as deer and reindeer are present-more than likely as an indication of those animal’s importance as a prey species, since many of these myths also center around the hunter.

Santa’s Reindeer

Merry Christmas!

And a belated Merry Yule!

This month has been busy, busy, busy. I was hoping to do one last seasonal folklore post today but that requires research, and the last thing that I want to do today is research.

I want to be lazy and lay around…except apparently I don’t and I’ve been tackling small odds and ends type projects around the apartment. My living space looks like it’s been ransacked and there’s lots of small stuff to get done.

And new recipes to try. The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook comes highly recommended from the Frugal Girl and it was high up my wish list for Yule this year. I made french toast this morning- the recipe was good but my bread wasn’t sturdy enough, and honestly I just don’t like french toast that much.

I’m still working on Mid’s Christmas present and I can’t even give you a status photo because I put my camera down somewhere and can’t find it now. Like I said…lots of small projects to be accomplished.

Sunday Legends- The Naughty List

One of the reasons that I love horror so much is the way that the genre relies on traditional imagery. There are so many folkloric stories that influence popular culture, but they sometimes receive so little attention. Sundays will be the day where I pick one story or one image and examine the history and variations of the legend.

But this is the Holiday edition! For the month of December, I’ll be looking at seasonally appropriate themes.

The Naughty List

American pop culture teaches us that Santa Clause is watching us. Always. Watching. Us.

There’s an imperative to always be good. Always. However, Santa Clause doesn’t really punish the people who for whatever reason end up on the naughty list. Have a really bad year? Have a lump of coal. That’s…not that bad in the grand scheme of things. It could be a lot worse…


Krampus has a long standing history in certain regions of Europe. Krampus appears in the beginning of December where he searches out naughty, misbehaving children and stuffs them in a sack. Once in the sack he carries them off…obstensibly to eat them. Or if you’re lucky, he just beat you with a chain.

I’d take the coal.


Belsnickel is a derivitive of Krampus. Instead of being demonic, Belsnickel is a man dressed in large amounts of fur. Similar to Santa Clause he leaves switches in the stockings of bad children. Belsnickel is found primarily in Germany and Pennsylvania Dutch communities.

Le Pere Fouettard

Le Pere Fouettard is a continuation of the beating/switch theme. Found in southern France, Le Pere Fouettard is said to travel the countryside punishing children who have been bad during the year. There are several origin stories for the character, all of which suggest that Le Pere Fouettard had once been violent to children and had to accompany St. Nickolaus as punishment.

The Legend in Popular Culture

While America tends overlook the darker sides of the Santa Clause legend, the imagery is present. Images have been used in comedic works ranging from the Venture Brothers to the Colbert Report (see the companions of Santa Clause entry on wikipedia for a broader list). Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and other independent perfumeries have used various companion imagery as the basis of perfumes. In certain areas of Europe, it is still traditional to celebrate these companions on their own days throughout December

Getting to be that time of the year

Got Friends? christmash/holiday card swap is now taking sign ups!

I’m running it this year. I’m both looking forward to it and apprehensive. This is an easy swap but I’m always afraid I’m going to botch the swap.

I’m also not sure what I think about the fact that it’s late enough to even be thinking about this stuff yet…

…but that said, I picked the 15th as my unofficial start to the holiday season! i’m thinking of asking mid to put the lights on the tree for me this weekend so I can work on getting it decorated.

The 15th was also the day that I set aside for the start of 2011’s yarn diet. So…here I go! No more new yarn except for charity, commissions, and gifts until after the first of the year. My stash is a lot larger this year so it shouldn’t be as much as a struggle this time around.