Trolls in the Nordic Folklore
Halloween is coming up, and even though it is not that celebrated in the Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland) it is something we cannot ignore in this day and age. So, my contribution to this month of creatures and mysteries is trolls. The Nordic kind.
A little bit about them
Most trolls running around in the Nordic forests do not look especially strange. Many of them even look human! But there is always something strange about them. They might be hollow from the back or have a tail. They might be too big or too small. You basically cannot say that this is what a troll looks like.
Their behaviour is as diverse as their looks. There are many stories about changelings, children being changed for troll children. Grown-ups could also be taken and spend years in the mountain halls. When they came back tie didn’t make sense. Imagine having been away for a day but 100 years had passed! But trolls were also helpful and great blacksmiths and musicians. And if you wanted help they could offer, but you had to do exactly what they said (otherwise it could go really badly). Also, if you helped a troll it would pay you back tenfold!
Fun fact: The saying “Speak of the Devil” in Swedish is “När man talar om trollen”, which translates to “When speaking of the trolls”.
The trolls roaming around today
The oldest stories known about are from the 10th century (written down on the 13th century) and trolls have changed a lot since then. Just think about the three trolls in The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien). They are big and kind of stupid. Instead the scary monsters that steal children are aliens.
So, trolls around the world have been reduced to stupid beings that often are more humorous than scary. However, in Norway the trolls are still following the old traditions quite close. Take a look at the film Trollhunter (2010) and you will know what I’m talking about.
I wish you all a Happy Halloween! And let’s hope you are not visited by the trolls of old.