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Archive for the ‘Folklore’ Category

Back in 2010 I made a series of posts from the start of December through to the 24th called “A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse”. It was based on some background work I did for a series of Christmas cards I did donkey’s years ago. Since a lot of regular visitors have turned up on Retrorambling since then, here’s a quick reprise on the series – Ted

We have a strange lingual phenomena in Norway and that is that the fat sod you English speaking people call Santa we call a “nisse” and that would have posted no problem if it wasn’t for the fact that we already had a”nisse” long before St Nicolas started giving presents to poor children somewhere in Germany. It is all a linguistic mishap really, it is because the Swedes called Santa "Nisse" which is a nickname for Niklas and we here in Norway adopted it. The real nisse don’t like this at all. So in order to put things into prospective, I’m going to use December on this blog to let you all take part in my only scientific study “A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse”.

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The Norwegian "Nisse" is a relative of the Brownie, the Pixie and the Leprechaun. He lives in rural districts and in the woods. In Norway we call Santa Clause "nisse" as well, but that fat, jolly, "Ho Ho" chanting lunatic that Coca Cola and other companies that think they have a claim on Christmas love so much must never ever be mistaken for the original. The original "Nisse" has been around for as long as there has been people here in Norway, and he is here all year round.

In the old days people believed that the "nisse" took care of their houses and animals and kept them out of harms way. In rural districts people used to put out porridge for the "nisse", a tradition that is still upheld round Christmas at many farms around the country. The "nisse" could be quite a prankster, so keeping him happy was important. It is a well known fact that if he didn’t get his porridge, he could hide things or rearrange whole rooms or even worse.

In our day and age, the "nisse" has become very shy, as all the products of the silly thing we call progress scares him. Very few people has seen a "nisse" these last hundred years, so as I am one of the few fortunate, I will share my knowledge with you. In "A Study of the Norwegian Nisse" you will meet two, they both live in the woods close to my cottage in Enebakk, some five metric miles from Oslo city. They have never been willing to divulge their names so in lack of better names, I’ve called them Prototype No 1 and Prototype No 2, No 1 and No 2 for short.

All my knowledge stems from these two individuals, so this study may not give a general picture of the "nisse" as such at all. They are after all great pranksters. Pulling your leg is among their favourite past times, so if the picture I’m painting here seems to vary from your opinion of what a "nisse" is and should be, what can I say.

A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 2
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 3
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 4
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 5
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 6
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 7
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 8
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 9
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 10
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 11
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 12
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 13
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 14
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 15
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 16
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 17
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 18
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 19
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 20
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 21
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 22
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 23
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 24

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If you are lucky enough to live in an era where there are frogs you seem to have a cure for almost every illness there is right outside your front door if these old and tested remedies are anything to go by – Ted 😉072_frog_cures

To get rid of freckles, go to a brook, catch a frog and rub it on the freckles.
(U.S.)

To cure warts rub a live frog over them, then impale it on a thorn to die.
(Britain)

To stop bleeding, bind the cut with linen cloths that had been dipped in
"ye green fome where frogges have their spawne
3 days before the new-moon."
(17th century, Europe)

To cure whooping cough, place a small frog in a box
tied around the afflicted person’s neck.
As the frog decays the cough will disappear.
(rural England)

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-To cure a toothache, spit into a frog’s mouth,
ask it to carry the ache away, then release it.

To cure thrush, hold a live frog’s head in your mouth.
As it breathes it will draw the disease into itself.
(Cheshire, England)

The dried body of a frog worn in a silk bag around the neck
will prevent epilepsy and other fits.

Young frogs swallowed live were a remedy
for general weakness, cancer and consumption.
(Yorkshire, England)

To cure rheumatism, roast a live frog and apply it to the sore area.
(Utah, U.S.)

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From “Frogs” by Gerald Donaldson published by Windward in 1980

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They say that sea vessels continue to hear SOS signals from the Titanic to this day. Radio signals come periodically, once every few years. Also, some “survivors” are reported to have been found decades after the Titanic tragedy.

Thus, as legend has it, a middle-aged woman dressed in an early 20th-century fashion style was taken on board a vessel passing by the Titanic sinking site. The name she used to identify herself was later found in the passenger lists.

Other miraculous ghost stories related to the Titanic mention a ten-month-old baby allegedly found alive in a lifebelt, carrying the inscription Titanic, and an elderly gentleman dressed in a White Star Line captain’s uniform. The man is said to have introduced himself to his rescuers as Captain Smith – the name of the Titanic’s chief commanding officer.


There can be no doubt that serious  publications like Weekly World News (see image above), News Of The World, The Sun and People have been great contributor when it comes to keeping these legends alive and I for one are full of admiration – Ted 😉

Image found on “Google Books” – Text found on “Rianovosti

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Article from Modern Mechanix July 1934 found on blog.modernmechanix.com
By identifying the sea serpent of Loch Ness, Scotland, as a familiar species of whale, naturalists have just shown how easily the human eye may be fooled into thinking it sees an unfamiliar monster. Worldwide interest was drawn to Loch Ness, within recent months, by repeated eyewitness reports of a long-necked, aquatic apparition of huge size, resembling no known marine animal. Finally Dr. Robert K. Wilson, noted British surgeon, managed to get a snapshot of the fabulous creature, and the mystery vanished. The picture showed the curved fin of a killer whale projecting in typical fashion from the water strongly suggesting an elongated neck and head. According to Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews, noted explorer and zoologist, and others who agreed on this identification, the whale evidently had strayed up an inlet from the sea into the lake. This was the second sea monster mystery to be cleared up recently. Examination showed a strange marine creature, washed up dead on French shores near Cherbourg (P.S.M., May, ’34, p. 38), to be a basking shark of a common species, made almost unrecognizable by the waves.

The honourable Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews must have felt like he had a rather large amount of egg on his face when Dr. Robert K. Wilson finally admitted that his photography was a fake – Ted

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Article from Modern Mechanix April 1934 found on blog.modernmechanix.com
Scotland is aroused over reports made by several reliable persons that they have seen a sea monster in the vicinity of Loch Ness.

Arthur Grant, veterinary student, was riding home early one morning on his motorcycle when he viewed the creature, which he described as being about 15 or 20 feet in length. He jumped from his motorcycle to look at the animal, but he said it snorted wildly and splashed into the loch.

Scientists, discrediting the prehistoric sea monster theory, are inclined to believe the frequently seen animal is either a deep-sea eel or stray shark.

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Visiting one another is a great part of "nisse" life. A "nisse" knows any other "nisse" living in his district intimately. He never moves from the district where he is born and he knows where  any other "nisse" in that district lives. He know their names, their age, when they have their birthdays, what they like and dislike and what an appropriated gift when visiting might be. And this goes more than anything for relatives.
They are very social beings and would appreciate any guest at any time. They never invite one another, they just turn up and are welcome when they do. And they do celebrate Christmas of course, if not for the same reason as we do. And then the families gather and here you see my two friends on their way to such midwinter gathering.

Well this was the last from my little friends this year as I will do as them, gather my Christmas presents and take off to be with my family for the next few days. Maybe I’ll let you get a few more glimpses of their lives and doings next Christmas or maybe I’ll find something else to post in December then.

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The woods and the mountains are the natural habitat for a "nisse" and one of his greatest joys is hiking. Like any other sane being living in Norway he loves the smell, the view and the quietness of nature.

A new brewed cup of coffee, a few rashes of bacon on a warm toast or a bowl of hot soup by a lake or a stream, that’s life for you, whether you are "nisse" or a human being.

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