To all writers: we are in desperate need of enchanting wintery tales to read with our cookie-dough snowballs* and hot cocoa with marshmallow cube** next winter!
* Perhaps I should think about doing these Christmas cookies now before it’s all sunshine and ice creams. Well, it’s always all things and ice creams but– but. I’m so behind everything. /cry/
** Just the marshmallows for me, though.
Especially wintery tales with mistletoes to kiss under*. ( can I swoon over my ships kissing under the mistletoe? /growl/ ok, later. ) Because we don’t have enough of those! When I built my reading list for the Adventureathon host by Jasmine @Novel Thought last december, I try to pick only christmas / wintery books. It’s been quite a challenge. Which we, writers, have to fix! For our fellow bookworms, obviously**.
*You are allowed to use mistletoe to kill someone. both options are cool.
** And selfishly for my bookworm-self. two birds, one stone.
We have so many stories around the world set in winter to play with! The retelling of fairy tales like the Nutcracker or oh! Alice in a wonderland Arendelle. How pretty! Then, can you tell me of stories more aesthetic pinterest board material than mythology? Tell me the tales of the goddess, Beira or of the three winters before the Ragnarök!
It’s a good thing I have here mythology stories for you to discover to perhaps sparks your inner goblin’s creativity, I guess! Let you swept off like kids and wake me that goblin!
Fimbulvetr, the Mighty Winter
There was once a summer that men and gods waited, but that never came. They looked at the sky swallowed by snow in search of the sun or the icy silver of the stars, but their lights were faint, like stolen. The days short, drown into the darkness. Storms were the default weather and left behind snow, the hearts of men frostbitten into sorrow and despair. Even the gods shivered on Asgard. “ Tomorrow summer will come ” yet they said eyes towards the sky looking for the missing summer. But all through the days where before there were flowers the snow fell steadily. The eyes were sad, but still hopeful to see summer again. But summer never came for this was the Mighty Winter, Fimbulvetr.
In Jotunheimen, the frost-giants shouted victory through the storms. “ the Fimbulvetr has come at last ” whispered men terrified as they knew what foretold the Mighty Winter. War followed shortly after. With no hope of ever seeing days of summer, men no longer worried for good and evil. Snow didn’t fell fast enough to cover the blood.
Three years passed with not even a single flower blooms. The frost-giants were thrilled thinking they had made fallen the gods at last and earth was no longer but deserted battlefields. Despair and sorrow all there were left. On Asgard, the gods waited.
Then, a giant wolf left the Underworld, his cries echoing through the frosty winter. He ran after the sun, but never close enough he ran all day along. As the sun went down, he devoured it. It was the last sunset. The moon took its place, but howls echoed through the snow storm again and a second giant wolf devoured the lunar body. One by one the stars fell from the sky, blackness and snow wrapping all around. It was time for the last great battle, the twilight of gods: Ragnarök.
Beira, the cursed Goddess of Winter
“ Oh! How can I happy be
All alone in the dark and the cold.
I think of my beauty with pain
And the days when another was queen.
’Tis winter my reign doth begin.„
From her throne on Ben Nevis in Scotland, Beira, goddess of winter, rules her kingdom through fear, the wild by her side. It’s told that when the world was a new thing with no winter, she left snow on the mountains and that’s how she started to reign. Nobody tries to steal the crown as they know better than not to stand up to their queen.
For those who’d think to try, you may want to think twice. Loch ness, home to our beloved monster Nessie, was created after Nessa, her maid, forgot to protect a well of the moonlight. Beira turned the poor girl into a river. Trapping her forever in the water.
Yet, her kingdom knows uprising when spring blooms. Wrathful to see her power fades away she sent spring snows, frost to kill early flowers, everything to keep summer away. But at last, she has to pass the throne to the King and Queen of Summer and Plenty, loved for they give sunshine to days.
It’s the night before the first of the longest day that the queen leaves her throne to travel to the Green Island of the West. Men have marvelled at its beauty, but it vanished always, sinking beneath the waves like the sun give up its place to the night. However, Beira knows the way.
She waits for the first beam of light, and drinks the water of the Well of Youth, careful that any birds drank first as she would crumble to dust. She awakes beautiful as ever; her hair yellow as sunflowers, cheeks red as cherries and two blue eyes like the summer sea in sunshine.
But when summer lives its last days, Beira grows old. Her hair white as snow, her one eye as swift as a silvery-fish in the ocean again. She takes back her crown for the winter until summer comes again. Forever cursed to be worshipped as a goddess in summer, her crown a chaplet of colourful flowers, and feared as an ugly queen in the winter.
Persephone, Queen of the Underworld
When never-ending summer was all earth knew, Persephone, daughter of Demeter, goddess of harvest, liked to pick flowers and get some sun in the fields of Sicily. She was full of life, wide-eyed and beautiful and where ever she walked flowers grew. Hades, all alone in his gloomy kingdom below, marvelled at her enchanting beauty. The days of summers doomed the first time he had seen Persephone.
An afternoon, Persephone stoops down to pick the most pretty narcissus she has ever seen. The earth opens beneath her feet, and before she has the chance to ask for help, Hades takes her in the underworld to be with him, forever. So he thought.
Heartbroken her daughter is missing, Demeter wanders the earth, causing mayhem and destruction as she goes; crops die, fruits rot. She looks for Persephone 9 days and 9 nights.
Desperate, Demeter goes to see Helios, god of the sun, as he sees all when the burning star blazes the world. Sorry to hear of her sorrow, Helios tells her that Zeus had promised Persephone to Hades and he had taken his new queen to the underworld. ‘ a match in heaven ’ he dares to say. Followed the first winter of many more.
Persephone cries in the Underworld. She misses her mom and the blissful afternoons in the field. Hades asks her sometimes if she’d like to eat pomegranate to ease the sadness, but she says she’ll eat nothing of the underworld as she wishes to go home. When Hermes comes to take her home though, Persephone ate a pomegranate seed or six, perhaps tricked by hades or perhaps willingly to soothe her sorrow, and wish not to go home but to stay with her husband.
Demeter, hearing of this, is furious, she doesn’t want to believe that her sweet daughter might wish to stay in this gloomy, colourless place. She threatens to never bring summer again and thus let earth die if Persephone stays in the world below. Zeus says that Persephone, having eaten pomegranate, will be allowed to leave the Underworld for six months and required to come see her mother at this time being, the six months left she will stay with her husband.
Hermes guides her out of the Underworld and earth blooms again as she walks on the carpet of snow. The summer will last all her stay. But, when she leaves for the Underworld, earth feels Demeter sorrow and despair and dies for a few months before blooming again.
If these stories tinged with snow weren’t enough to wake your goblin, I still have something up my sleeve.
Although I don’t know how. I have this story popping like pop-corns in my brain about a frost-giant falling for a wolf-boy since yesterday. I can’t stop thinking how cute, how adventurous, how bloody it’ll be and– FINE, I SURRENDER! / open scrivener / see ya!
Oh, sorry! Before I go. +5 writing prompts ( keep it safe on Pinterest! ) for you to shake that goblin a little bit more! Wake up, goblin!
- The detective / mystery club which you are part of for reasons you don’t get investigates the case of the abominable snowman, but everything goes sideways*.
- While stealing flowers in the garden of Persephone, you notice that the underworld is frozen, but it’s winter in the world above.
- On Mari Lwyd night, people hide in their house leaving someone on the street to keep busy the zombie horses. This year, it’s you, but you can’t sing. All you have is a violin.
- Last winter before Ragnarök, the Fenrir children will turn into wolves at the next full moon forever. Ready for the war. But you don’t want to, you won’t give up your human skin.
- You come to Ben Nevis to ask the goddess Beira where is the Well of Youth. She says with a wicked smile that when flowers bloom again, she will show you the place. She tricked you.
- You wake up in a cave, damp and dark, with other kids. An elf with a pointy hat takes off your chains and says ” Nice! You are awake, it’s time to harvest coal, kiddo. ” Welcome to the Krampus’ lair.
- In Jotunheim, you watch the wars and sorrows of men since the Mighty Winter blew its first snow storms. You dare to ask why the frost-giants don’t do anything. We laugh at your good heart, but little they know that’s why you will be their god.
* May I say that ‘ everything goes sideways ’ in French is so cute? It’s ‘ everything goes in peanut ’ or ‘ everything goes in lollipop. ’
Which one is your favourite? Do you have like me a little twinge at your heart for Beira? Did it wake up your goblin?