It’s almost Winter Tales time! Every year for several years now, from the beginning of December until Epiphany, I’ve shared some winter tales — stories to tell or to read around a warm fire on a cold dark night, preferably with a steamy hot drink to wrap your hands around.
I try to focus on stories set on or around Christmas, or at least in winter. Sometimes, I’ll feature ghost stories that were originally published as contributions to the Christmas edition of a literary magazine. And often I’ll feature something that feels “winter tale-ish” to me, regardless of when it takes place.
This year, I’ve got a special theme: folklore-related winter tales. I’ll feature stories that (to my mind, at least) have some relationship to folklore, whether that be old legends, old songs, or creatures from the folklore bestiary. We still have a few days before this year’s series officially begins, but I’d like to preview this year’s round with a couple of stories that I’ve shared previously that fit the theme:
The Haunted Dragoon, by Arthur Quiller-Couch (link to story)
A handsome dragoon (cavalry or mounted infantryman), searching for a fugitive smuggler, billets himself and his men at the home of a miserly farmer and his much younger, love-starved wife. The inevitable happens, with dark, dark consequences….
The story itself isn’t folkloric, but there are a few cool little bits of local folklore sprinkled throughout:
Within the archway bubbles a well, the water of which was once used for all baptisms in the parish, for no child sprinkled with it could ever be hanged with hemp.
As I recall, the little bits of folklore were part of why I picked this story. Though the haunting is pretty good, too.
A pious blacksmith colludes with the devil to impress the woman he loves.
This is a longer novella, and not a traditional Christmas ghost story, but I love it. The story is rich in details of Ukrainian folkore and folklife, with lots of farcical supernatural hijinks. Not scary at all, but a lot of fun.
In a few days, I’ll start my 2018 winter tale season. I’m really looking forward to sharing a new round of stories with you, and I hope you enjoy them, too. In the meantime – enjoy!
Featured Image: hurry up, we’re dreaming! Dennis’ Photography. Source: Flickr.
Inseperarables, Florence Fuller (circa 1900). Source: Wikimedia.