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Winter Solstice: The Gift Givers

Author: Christina Aubin [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: November 29th. 2003
Times Viewed: 14,474

Yule/Winter Solstice (between December 21st and 23rd) also known as: Nollaig; Yuletide, Alban Arthan; Juul; Jul; Jiuleis; Joulupukki; Children's Day; Dies Natalis Invicti Solis; Saturnalia; Mid-Winter; Brumalia; Sacaea; Festival of Kronos (Cronos); Dazh Boh; Chaomos; Inti Raymi; Dong Zhi; Soyal; Sada; Touji; Zagmuk; Sacaea

The Gift Givers

The Gift Givers of Winter Solstice are abundant as they are generous. Some say they do not exist, some say they do. According to an old Basque saying: "everything that has a name exists, if we believe it does." Thus count me in the believing crowd, as the Yuletide gift givers have many names from many places.

There are many from all over, here are a few:
  • Joulupukki is the Finish gift giver; the actual translation of Joulupukki is Yule Goat, he lives on the top of a mountain called Korvatunturi in Lappland. In the past the Joulupukki, the Yule Goat, was just that a goat, however over the past century the Joulupukki took on a more familiar human form, and is referred to as the Finish Father Christmas, and it is he who now lives in Lappland with his wife and her industrious gnomes, he now rides a goat made of straw.
  • Julemanden is from Denmark, he rides his reindeer pulled sleigh, his helpers are house elves, Juul Nisse, who live in each house's attic, children leave out food and drink for Julemanden and their Juul Nisse as a measure of thanks.
  • Julenissen is the Norwegian Yule Gnome or Elf in times past he was the guardian of families as well as Santa's helper. He is, in modern time, an assistant to Santa Claus and brings the Norwegian children their gifts. He has a long white beard; he wears a red stocking cap, breeches to the knee, stockings, and of course a Norwegian sweater, and a fur coat.
  • Somewhere in tradition the Julenissen became entwined with the Fj¿snisse. The Fj¿snisse lives in woods and barns across the Norwegian countryside. It is said that Fj¿snisse's favor is essential to every farming family's welfare. As a gift of thanks and prompt for future assistance Norwegian children leave him a hot bowl of porridge in the barn during Yule. Children in Norway traditionally went door to door asking for candies, the leader of the group would dress as the Julebukk, the Yule Goat, thus tradition was known as going Julebukk.
  • Jultomten is the Swedish Gnome who lives in the city of Mora. Thor's Julbocker, goats, draws his sleigh, as he is gaily dressed in red complete with his sack.
  • Sinterklaas is the winter gift giver in the Netherlands. Sinterklaas has white horse and an assistant named Swartz Pete. Black Pete. It is Black Pete who travels up and down the chimneys delivering gifts to the children. Sinterklaas leaves gold coins in the children's shoes if they have been good.
  • Kerstman is another gift bearer of the Netherlands. The Kerstman has flying reindeers and brings gift for under the tree.
  • Ded Morozis, Ded Morozbozic Bata, Deda Mraz, Dedek Mraz, Daido Coleda are all names for the Slavic area's Grandfather Frost, dressed in a long red Lap fur coat.
  • Snegoyrachka, the Snow Maiden, Grandfather's Frost's assistant. She is dressed in her own lap coat complete with holiday hat and boots. She is the same snow maiden from Russian folklore that falls in love with a herdsman only to melt way in spring.
  • Kolyada in some areas of Russia there is a woman called Kolyada, Marena; Marzana believed to be the goddess of winter and the earth, who is clad in white, and who travels from house to house on a sledge bringing gifts, with her maiden attendants who sing the Kolyada, carols. Some say She represents the goddess of the Sun, as has been said that in Russian folklore the sun is female but there seems to indication that She is a Goddess in her own right who is consort of the God Dazhbog for it is said when the days began to grow longer, she enters her sledge, dressed in her best finery with a stunning circlet, speeds her horses toward summer, toward Dazhbog.
  • Baboushaka or Babushka is yet another female Russian gift bringer. She is another archetypal grandmother Witch, like the Baba Yaga. She leaves presents for Russian Children.
  • Yule Swain: According to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable from 1898. "The Yule Swain is: a kind of Santa Klaus among the Lapps. He is eleven feet high, and rides on a goat. He appears on St. Thomas's Day, and continues his visits till Christmas Eve; but where he comes from and whither he goes nobody has the least idea."
  • Gwiazdor is the Polish "Star Man" with his helpers the "Star Boys". He leaves goodies in the children's shoes.
  • Hoteiosho is the Japanese gift-giver who is Father Winter/Summo wrestler/Hoti, whose eyes are set in the back of his head. It is said he is a Japanese God, other reports claim he is a priest and one source said he was introduced as a marketing ploy by Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  • Olentzero, the Coal man, is a white bearded, pot bellied Spanish gift giver, was found abandoned in the Basque forest near the village of Lesaka, by a beautiful faery. The Faery brought him to a kind childless couple to be nurtured. When he was grown and his good parents dead, he begun making wooden toys to deliver to the orphaned children in the Basque countryside. One terrible day he saw a house fire, he ran in to rescue the children who were trapped, and in doing so he lost his own life. Due t his caring and generous ways, the faery returned to him in the blaze and brought him back to the forest to live with her, so that he may forever more during mind-winter bring gifts to those children and give chestnuts and wine to the adults.
  • Si™n Corn, " Chimney John", is a jolly Welsh gift-giver who dresses in red. He does, of course, as his name indicates visits houses to leave presents via the chimney.
  • Weihnachtsmann is one of an assortment of German gift bringers to reward good behavior with sweets and small toys as well as the bearer of punishment for bad behavior; evident in the switches he carried. His assistant is Knecht Ruprecht, who carried a large sack that in it, according to folklore, he would place all the naughty children. Some other German names for the Gift Bringer: Aschenmann, Bartl, Boozenickel, Hans Trapp, Klaubauf, Krampus, Pelznickel, Ruhklas, Ruprecht, and Schmutzli. The name varies region to region, sometimes he walks, sometimes he rides a white horse, and other times by sleigh. His temperament also varies region to region, most of the time he is joyful but there are those personalities that are more frightening aimed I am sure to keep the young ones in line.
  • La Befana is the benevolent gift bearing Witch of Italy; she brings small gifts for good children and coal for those who have been naughty. She flies her broomstick down the chimney to deliver the presents to their shoes, which are left out by children before bed.

Blessed Solstice!

Christina Aubin
Email: Christina

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Article ID: 7744

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Section: holidays

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 5,687

Times Read: 14,474


Christina Aubin

Location: North Shore, Massachusetts

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