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December 24, 2012

Naughty or nice

Puck_1629.JPG

"Packwood" derives from the Saxon "Pacca's Wood", i.e. what the Cymri called "Pwca's Wood". Shakespeare called him Puck.

In English folklore, Puck is a mythological fairy or mischievous nature sprite. Puck is also a generalised personification of land spirits. In more recent times, the figure of Robin Goodfellow is identified as a puck.

The Old English "puca" is a kind of half-tamed woodland sprite, leading folk astray with echoes and lights in nighttime woodlands (like the German and Dutch "Weisse Frauen" and "Witte Wieven" and the French "Dames Blanches," all "White Ladies"), or coming into the farmstead and souring milk in the churn.

In Finland, he is called Pukki; as Joulupukki, he is the Yule Goat (and enjoys goat for dinner).

Joulupukki is a Finnish Christmas figure. The name Joulupukki literally means Christmas goat or Yule Goat. The Finnish word "pukki" comes from the Teutonic root "bock" (equivalent of the English "buck", "Puck", or "billy-goat") and is an old Scandinavian tradition.

There is a clear family resemblance to Krampus, a fae relation from the Alps responsible for dealing with the naughty part of the naughty or nice equation.

Krampus is a beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish bad children during the Yule season, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards nice ones with gifts. Krampus is said to capture particularly naughty children in his sack and carry them away to his lair.

Judging by these festive illustrations, we have Pukki in Canada too; perhaps drawn to the Taiga and comfortable making their home in boreal forest. But here we call them Wendigo. August Derleth called the same creature Ithaqua.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at December 24, 2012 07:48 AM