CREEPY CHRISTMAS SUPERSTIONS and FOLKLORE, Part 2

Last week's Christmas Superstitions included The Good, the Bad and the Scary. This week’s installment brings you some traditions that are downright creepy! They may not be true, but there's bound to be at least a couple that will give you a chill just the same.

Dogs that howl on Christmas Eve will go mad before the end of the year. A candle or a lamp should be kept burning all night on Christmas Eve to avoid a death in the house in the following year.

Instead of water turning into wine at midnight on Christmas Eve, some hold the belief that the water in streams and wells turns into blood! Not only that, if you witness this change, you’ll die within the year!

A Scandinavian belief maintains that it's dangerous to go out on Christmas Eve because of the many supernatural beings that come out of their hiding places that night. Trolls, witches, goblins and ghosts are said to roam freely, including the spirits of the dead revisiting their previous homes. Gifts must be left outside – bowls of pudding and cream, clothes, tobacco and even ale – in order to appease some of these creatures. The most perilous time occurs between cock’s crow and dawn, when supernatural beings are at the peak of their power. To go outside means risking death or being carried off by them, never to be seen again.

Swedish folklore puts a chilling twist on this story. On Christmas Eve, they prepare their dining room with food and ale and blazing fire – and leave it overnight to enable the spirits of the dead to celebrate undisturbed. The family checks the chairs in the morning for traces of earth, proof that the dead have come calling!

Icelandic children lived in fear of being eaten by bloodthirsty ogres living in the mountains. The most ferocious of these was Mother GrĂ½la, who wandered through the village at Christmastime with her evil cat.

Instead of leaving out cookies for Santa, gifts and food had to be left out to appease the ogres. If they didn't like the offerings, they'd eat you. And if you didn't have at least one brand new article of clothing in honor of the season – the cat would eat you!

A once popular parlor game gave everyone an apple after dinner, which was then cut in half across the middle to reveal the pattern of the core. If the core is star-shaped (most apples have this), the owner of the apple will see another Christmas. If the core is a different shape, the owner’s death will occur in the next twelve months! The appearance of a four-pointed cross was worst of all – although what was worse than death is never mentioned.

Parlor games in Victorian England also included telling ghost stories by the fire, while keeping tabs on everyone’s shadow throughout the evening. If anyone’s shadow were to appear headless, that person would die within the coming year.

While most cultures consider it lucky to be born on Christmas, others definitely do not. In Greece, any child born during the 12 days of Christmas is in danger of morphing into a kallikantzaroi, a malevolent half-animal, half-human monster that lives underground most of the year. Such a creature will almost certainly devour his own brothers and sisters!

In Romania, Poland and Moldova, a child born on Christmas Day may become a werewolf. A different variation on this tale is that any child conceived during Advent (when parents apparently were supposed to abstain from such activities) was almost certainly doomed to become a were-animal by the time they reached adulthood. In some Slavic regions, a child be born anywhere between Christmas and Ephiphany will surely become a vampire after death.

To avoid bad luck, all Christmas decorations should be taken down by Candlemas (Feb. 2). However, make sure you clean up after them – every needle left behind in the house from the Christmas tree will cause the sighting of a spirit or a demon in the coming year. Some believe a stray needle or berry will result in a death in the family. (A good case for having an artificial tree!)

The danger isn't over once the decorations are down because a Christmas tree thrown outside will attract the attention of evil spirits and supernatural beings. For proper disposal, the tree must be burned immediately.

An old Breton tale tells the story of a blacksmith who refused to stop working after the church bell had rung for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Suddenly a tall man entered his shop with a scythe that needed mending.

The blacksmith did the work but the mysterious man refused to pay him. Instead, he told the blacksmith to send for a priest because this work would be the last he would ever do. By the time the roosters crowed on Christmas morning, the blacksmith was dead. He had mended the Scythe of the Grim Reaper himself.

Wishing you a merry-not-too-scary holiday season!

Dani Harper
http://www.daniharper.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Dani.Harper.Fan.Page

CHRISTMAS SUPERSTITIONS and FOLKLORE, Part 1

'Tis the season to dust off my favorite blogs of Christmases past!  Hope you enjoy this fun rerun!

As you know, I just can’t resist anything related to the paranormal. But Christmas? Who would have suspected that there was anything supernatural about such a warm fuzzy holiday?

I had a lot of fun researching Christmas superstitions and I was amazed by how MANY there were! In fact, there’s so much material I’ve decided to blog twice about this topic. Here then is the first installment. (By the way, here's the official disclaimer -- Remember, these are folktales and traditions, and not intended to be taken as truth!)

The Good….

Unmarried girls can cut a twig from a cherry tree on St. Barbora’s Day (Dec. 4th) and put it in water. If it blooms by Christmas Eve, marriage will follow within the year. Counting the stars on Christmas Eve will foretell the number of sheaves in your harvest. And if you see the sun shining through the limbs of the apple trees on Christmas Day, there’ll be an abundance of fruit the following year.

If you dream on any of the 12 nights between Christmas and Epiphany (Jan. 6), your dreams will come true in the next year. The first person in the household to hear a rooster crow or anyone who hears a cricket chirp on Christmas Day is going to have a very lucky year. Good luck follows those who give money to the poor on Christmas Day, to those who eat their breakfast by candlelight, and to those who stir the Christmas pudding.

The Bad….

Bad, bad fortune follows those who leave the dishes unwashed on Christmas Eve (and that’s on top of what Mom will do to you!). On Christmas Day, it’s unlucky to leave the dinner table before everyone has finished. A full moon on Christmas predicts a scanty harvest in the year to come. If Christmas Day falls on a Thursday, a year of windy weather is forecast.

On Christmas Eve it’s said that you can hear the bells of lost churches that have been covered by floods or buried by landslides and earthquakes. Picking up nuts or fruit from the ground will bring bad luck. So will sending carolers away without treats or money. And you really don’t want to be the first one home from church!

And the Scary….

A piece of winter greenery (holly, mistletoe, evergreen, etc.) must be brought into your home during the Christmas season, to keep away evil spirits. However, every winter leaf left in the house after Candlemas (Feb. 2) will result in the sighting of a ghost, or perhaps even a death in the house during the coming year! Mistletoe must be burned, or those who kissed beneath it will become enemies.

Those born on Christmas Day are rumored to be able to see ghosts and spirits. And those who are born on Christmas Eve are said to turn into ghosts themselves on that day every year! (Wow, this sounds more like Halloween, doesn’t it?) The only way to avoid this odd fate is to remain awake the entire night until Christmas Day dawns.

That's all for this post. Watch for more on Christmas superstitions!

Dani Harper
http://www.daniharper.com/

WINTER WARM-UP BLOG HOP - Dani Harper's Yuletide Post on WINTER SOLSTICE


The timing of the Winter Warm-Up Blog Hop couldn't be more perfect -- the WINTER SOLSTICE falls on Sunday, December 21 this year.

Hosted by Hops with Heart
The Solstice, known for centuries as Yule, marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. It also marks the point at which the days begin to lengthen and light will increase. Our ancestors rejoiced in the return of the sun, seeing it as a rebirth of life as well as light. We get pretty excited about it too! 

The word Yule is likely from an old Nordic word for wheel. With the coming of Yule, the “wheel of the year” has rolled around to its beginning once more.  

We still refer to the Christmas season as Yuletide, and many of the old traditions associated with the solstice have lived on. There are too many to list, but I've touched on a few favorites. See if you recognize them!

Don't forget to head on down to the bottom and enter my giveaway, plus check out some of the 140+ sites which are also featuring goodies and giveaways. 

Note -- don't forget to ALSO enter for the GRAND PRIZE: a $75 Amazon Gift Card! The link is at the bottom of this post.  Many thanks to HOPS WITH HEART at www.hopswithheart.blogspot.com for hosting this event!

The Yule Log

Decorative yule logs gradually replaced the fireplace logs.
Medieval tradition tells of an enormous log – commonly ash or oak – placed in the fireplace on the solstice. It was decorated with evergreens and kindled with the carefully saved remains of last year’s Yule log. The wood would burn all night, then be allowed to smolder for the following 12 days. Pouring ale or wine on the log was customary. So was sprinkling flour or breadcrumbs on it, or even placing coins on the log. All were said to bring good fortune, and the blackened coins were later given as gifts.

A Yule Cake


Later, as large fireplaces fell out of fashion, small logs were decorated in a similar way and holes were bored into the wood to hold candles, which would be burned for 12 nights. The French were the first to create an edible Yule log, and Victorian confectioners made these Yule cakes famous. You can still find them in bakery departments today.


The Yule Tree

Celtic customs are said to have called for the decorating of sacred oak trees. The Celts and many other peoples also held evergreens to be symbolic of immortality, of continuing life in the midst of death. In the coldest, darkest and dreariest of winters, evergreens held forth hope of returning spring. Throughout many cultures and over countless centuries, homes have been decorated with evergreen boughs and other winter greenery.

The practice of decorating trees dates back to before Roman times. The trees were not cut down and brought into the house, however, but left alive and decorated wherever they grew with trinkets, trophies, sacred plants such as holly and mistletoes, bits of metal and sometimes replicas of gods and goddesses.


The Yuletide Wreath

Wreaths have symbolized the wheel of the year since ancient times, and the word wreath comes from the Old English writhen, meaning "to twist".  In many European countries, evergreen wreaths were lit with candles during the darkest winter days, symbolizing hope that light would return. Holly wreaths were said to ward off the evil spirits that abounded during the darkness of midwinter, and holly might be kept near the door all year long to invite good fortune.


Yule Goat made of straw
The Yule Goat

The what?  Honest, I'll bet you've seen one and not known what it was. The Yule Goat or Julbock was central to solstice traditions in Scandinavia and northern Europe. I could write an entire blog post about the fascinating Yule goat, but I'll keep it short this time....

Goats were originally slaughtered as offerings during Yule, but later, goats made of straw were created annually and either burned or used as decorations. Straw goats are now keepsakes in families, as well as popular tourist souvenirs!

Other Winter Solstice traditions

Many people celebrate by staying awake throughout the night of the solstice so they can watch the sunrise the following day. Others wake early to observe the daybreak and dawn of a new cycle. Bonfires are usually lit to simulate the ascent of the sun and sometimes herbs such as sage are thrown into the blaze. Candles are allowed to burn throughout the day. Gifts are often exchanged as part of the midwinter celebrations, and stories told of ghosts and fairies. (I like that one!)
 
Songs are sung, especially carols such as Deck the Halls which mention Yule specifically. Toasts are made and, in some places, groups dress up in costumes and go “wassailing”, which is very much like caroling. “Wassail” comes from an Anglo-Saxon toast for “Be Well” or “Be Healthy”. In modern times, the revelers go door to door, carrying “Wassail cups” that will hopefully be filled at each house. The traditional wassail drink is usually hot spiced cider, with or without alcohol.

LOVE and the Solstice


Winter Solstice is a time for renewal, and this includes relationships. The longest night of the year has great potential for couples. An extra-long evening of making love is a great way to reaffirm your bond! (Hey, I'm a romance author, I can say things like that, LOL)

It's also a time of new beginnings for those seeking love. Some traditions suggest going outside to meet the solstice at the right time (that's 6:03 PM Eastern Time in the USA). No special words are required, just a heartfelt wish. 

One old tradition calls for two mirrors to be placed on a table facing each other, with a lit candle set between them. The mirrors will reflect each other and reflect the candle multiple times. Look in one of the mirrors and count until you find the seventh reflection of the candle on the glass. It's said that you will see your true love in that spot.

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CHRISTMAS WONDER GIVEAWAY HOP ---- Dani Harper's Post + Giveaway

As much as I don't like snow, 
I have to admit that winter is the PERFECT time for both reading and writing. 

I'm working hard on my Christmas release, a total rewrite of THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT. 
But after that, I have a list of books just waiting for my undivided attention!




Dani's Personal Reading List for the Holidays:

These aren't new releases --- I'm WAY too far behind in my TBR pile for that! Instead, most of these are books I've looked forward to catching up on. As you can see, I have a well-rounded selection of romance, fantasy and reality. My four selections include two paranoramals (vampires and werewolves) and two non-paranormals (cowboys and rural southern survival)

1. Bloodshot by Cherie Priest  
Raylene Pendle (AKA Cheshire Red), a vampire and world-renowned thief, doesn’t usually hang with her own kind. She’s too busy stealing priceless art and rare jewels. But when the infuriatingly charming Ian Stott asks for help, Raylene finds him impossible to resist—even though Ian doesn’t want precious artifacts. He wants her to retrieve missing government files—documents that deal with the secret biological experiments that left Ian blind. What Raylene doesn’t bargain for is a case that takes her from the wilds of Minneapolis to the mean streets of Atlanta. And with a psychotic, power-hungry scientist on her trail, a kick-ass drag queen on her side, and Men in Black popping up at the most inconvenient moments, the case proves to be one hell of a ride.

2. Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell 
Ree Dolly's father has skipped bail on charges that he ran a crystal meth lab, and the Dollys will lose their house if he doesn't show up for his next court date. With two young brothers depending on her, 16-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive. Living in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Ree learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But, as an unsettling revelation lurks, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any cost.


3. A SEAL Wolf Christmas by Terry Spear
Navy SEAL Bjornolf Jorgenson has had tough missions before, but going undercover with feisty gray wolf Anna Johnson could top the list. She drives him crazy—in more ways than one. Now he has to investigate a murder, supervise a wild teenage wolf—and handle Christmas with Anna.
For Anna, the only thing worse than staging the perfect family Christmas is having to do it with Bjornolf posing as her husband. Anna is a serious undercover operative who isn't afraid of a fight, even with a hunky SEAL shifter. With a killer on the loose, Anna just wants to focus on their mission, but the one thing she can't fight is her sizzling chemistry with Bjornolf.

4. Wrestlin' Christmas by Shanna Hatfield
Sidelined with a major injury, steer wrestler Cort McGraw struggles to come to terms with the end of his career. Shanghaied by his sister and best friend, he finds himself on a run-down ranch with a worrisome, albeit gorgeous widow, and her silent, solemn son.
Five minutes after Cort McGraw lands on her doorstep, K.C. Peters fights to keep a promise she made to herself to stay away from single, eligible men. When her neighbor said he knew just the person to help work her ranch for the winter, she never expected the handsome, brawny former rodeo star to fill the position.
Ready to send him packing, her little boy has other plans.

ALL BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

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THE CHRISTMAS WONDER BLOG HOP 
December 1 to 31st

Here's my Rafflecopter giveaway! But be sure and visit ALL of the blogs to see what they love most about the season and which books have made their Christmas wish lists! There's a giveaway to enter at each stop! PLUS there's an overall GRAND PRIZE!

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WINTER BOOKLOVERS CONTEST hosted by Night Owl Reviews

#NORWinterWonderland  
WINTER 
BOOKLOVERS 
CONTEST
hosted by Night Owl Reviews
ON NOW!

I seldom miss an opportunity to join in the fun over at Night Owl Reviews. They have an amazing site in addition to some of the best hops and giveaways going!


Enter to Win 
Amazon Gift Cards!


5 = $100 Amazon Gift Cards

5 = $50 Amazon Gift Cards

18 = $25 Amazon Gift Cards


Easy to enter by Rafflecopter:
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Runs Nov. 10 to Dec. 10, 2014

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE CONTEST PAGE:
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THE GRIM - Legends of the BLACK DOG inspire my Grim Series

In some stories, the Grim protected
the innocent, defending children
and guarding travelers!
"Like one, that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows, a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread."
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, 
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1798

With STORM WARNED, the third installment of my Grim Series releasing soon, I thought it was a good time to share this spine-tingling legend once again!

I love a good ghost story and a ghost DOG story is even better! One of my favorite Welsh folktales provided inspiration for my latest series. The gwyllgi or barghest is a legendary canine with many names: The Black Dog, the Dog of Darkness, Black Shuck, Dog of the Twilight, the Black Hound of Destiny and my favorite name of all: THE GRIM. It’s said to resemble a giant mastiff, a noble animal which I greatly admire. A grim is larger than any living dog however, and its eyes are often red and glowing.

The story is an old one, dating all the way back to Celtic times in Wales. The Grim or Black Dog is associated with the Fae, and acts as the herald of Death itself -- those who see the animal are believed to be destined to die very soon! The dog appears without warning, follows and sometimes even chases people – yet vanishes without a trace. Electrical storms are often associated with the dog’s appearance (and yup, there’s a thunderstorm in every book in the Grim Series -- you can probably tell from the titles, STORM WARRIOR, STORM BOUND, STORM WARNED.)

A Grim is usually a fae herald of death,
but sometimes it's a hero!
This otherworldly beast has counterparts in many parts of the British Isles. For centuries, black dogs have haunted particular towns, roads and forests in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales. Sometimes a ghostly canine has haunted specific families! Such a situation helped inspire the 1901 classic, The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Big black dogs continue to pop up in popular fiction. Remember "the Grim" in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling? TV series such as SupernaturalReaper and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have all featured monstrous and malevolent hounds. The legend of the black dog is also alive and well in many video games. The Lord of the Rings online computer game features just such an animal.

BLACK DOG SIGHTINGS IN THE USA

Did you know there are sightings of ghostly canines right here in the United States? Black dogs are said to haunt Macon County, Tennessee and foretell death and calamity. US Highway 491 is also said to be haunted by dogs of darkness – which perhaps is not surprising when you find out that the highway was originally named Route 666! Motorists report braking for giant black dogs – only to have them vanish at the moment of impact!

In some stories, the Grim is an
instrument of justice
who hunts down the guilty.
Even Long Island, New York has a black dog legend. Just like its Welsh counterpart, seeing the creature is said to be followed by death within a month. The supernatural canine that roams the hills of Connecticut is a little more forgiving – you have to see that particular black dog three times before writing out your will.

Think you’re safe if you stay home at night? Maybe not. There are also many stories out there of seeing the Grim in a nightmare. As if the bad dream wasn’t enough, it’s said to be followed by dire events and even death. People have also reported the giant black dog appearing inside their home, complete with glowing eyes, only to have it vanish when the light was turned on. The apparition was often followed by a death in the family or other catastrophe.

BLACK DOG SYNDROME

Negative associations with dark dogs seem to be part of our collective human consciousness. It’s a frightening archetype throughout myth and legend, from Cerberus, the dark canine that guards the entrance to the Underworld, to the black Hounds of the Norse god, Odin, to the Hellhounds that follow the Faery Hunt. Plus, a common pseudonym for depression is The Black Dog. (Although anyone who’s ever played with a Labrador Retriever might object to that.)

Such long-held negative associations have sadly contributed to what pet shelters call Black Dog Syndrome. Studies have shown that black dogs (and black cats too) are usually LAST to be adopted. I'm currently owned by three dark dogs that were rescues, and all of them are incredibly loving and devoted to their humans.

THE BLACK DOG AS A HERO

In its defense, the Grim hasn’t always been threatening, at least, not to the innocent. In some tales, the animal is an instrument of justice, hunting down escaped murderers. A few stories recount incidents where the great beast protected children or guarded lone travelers. That truly captivated my imagination and made me wonder – what if the spectral creature had a conscience and a sense of compassion? What if the Grim didn’t mindlessly follow its mission? 

In that moment, THE GRIM SERIES was conceived!



Check out 
STORM WARRIOR, 
STORM BOUND
and the new
STORM WARNED 
on my website or on my Amazon Author Page.

SOMETHING WICKED STRIKES BLOG HOP -- Welcome to Dani Harper's page!

“Rainy

Certainly one of the best things about October is the advent of Halloween. But our interest in ghost stories doesn't end when we put the orange and black decorations away. With the shortening of daylight hours, something primal in us awakens. It's time for GHOST STORIES. Did you know that the Victorians made the telling of ghost stories an integral part of their Christmas celebrations?

I'm pleased to announce that one of my own ghost stories is enjoying a "resurrection" this year:

Bigger.
Better.
Badder...

Watch for it during the Christmas season, 2014
Dani's Christmas Ghost Story is BACK!
The Holiday Spirit returns with all-new material. The characters from this popular PNR novella have haunted their author into resurrecting the popular story, expanding it with additional scenes and details. (And don't forget that HAWT new cover!) Watch for it on Amazon, just in time for Christmas 2014!

BLURB:

All she wants for Christmas is a ghost...

Writer Kerri Tollbrook spends her free time counseling the newly departed, but the tall, dark and handsome spirit she meets at the shopping mall claims he’s not dead. Is he just in denial? Or is there something more sinister at work?

Firefighter Galen McAllister has felt like The Invisible Man ever since a malicious spell separated him from his still-living body. Kerri is the first person he's met who can actually see him. Now if only he can get her to listen … because the nightmare creature that trapped him between two worlds isn't finished!

Kerri’s got until Christmas to solve the riddle and free Galen – or lose him forever.

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LINKS TO OTHER GIVEAWAYS IN THE HOP




LITERARY ADDICTS OCTOBER BOOK HOP --- Welcome to Dani Harper's Stop!

There are are many things to love about every season but the month of OCTOBER is pure magic to me.

The tang of burning leaves in the air, the slow blaze of colors in the trees, the appearance of Halloween decorations, and best of all, GHOST STORIES!

This year, I'm thrilled to announce that one of my own ghost stories is returning from the netherworld:

Bigger.
Better.
Badder...

Watch for it during the Christmas season, 2014
Dani's Christmas Ghost Story is BACK! 
The Holiday Spirit returns with all-new material. The characters from this popular PNR novella have haunted their author into resurrecting the popular story, expanding it with additional scenes and details. (And don't forget that HAWT new cover!) Watch for it on Amazon, just in time for Christmas 2014!

BLURB:

All she wants for Christmas is a ghost...

Writer Kerri Tollbrook spends her free time counseling the newly departed, but the tall, dark and handsome spirit she meets at the shopping mall claims he’s not dead. Is he just in denial? Or is there something more sinister at work?

Firefighter Galen McAllister has felt like The Invisible Man ever since a malicious spell separated him from his still-living body. Kerri is the first person he's met who can actually see him. Now if only he can get her to listen … because the nightmare creature that trapped him between two worlds isn't finished!

Kerri’s got until Christmas to solve the riddle and free Galen – or lose him forever.
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There's No Place Like GNOME... part of the FAIRY TALE MAGIC BLOG HOP

This is Dani Harper's stop on the
Fairy Tale Magic Blog Hop!

See the LINK at the bottom
to over 80 participating sites.
Hi, my name is Dani, and I collect gnomes. There, I said it. (Gnomes aren't the only thing I collect, but that's another story...) The point is, I didn't intend to collect gnomes! I didn't plan to have any gnomes at all. Gnomes were not part of my overall landscape design or my home decor plans or even something to send to my mother (who is obsessed with garden figurines in general).


My mom gave me
my first gnome
And then my mother gave me one. You know the one, the little guy that promises you'll never have to roam alone... Mom had never heard of Travelocity, she just saw him and thought he was cute.

Admittedly, he WAS kind of cute. But he looked so lonely amidst the flowers all by himself. Being a bit of marshmallow heart, I decided to get him a friend. Just one, honest! And then I figured they probably needed some shelter from the sun and rain and so forth, so I got them a big ceramic mushroom. And before I knew it, there were more gnomes. And more mushrooms. And gnomes, gnomes, gnomes. The long and short is that I now have an entire gnomish civilization at the side of my house.  

At first, I was certain that the grandkids would be delighted by the whimsical community of pointy-hatted citizens. Instead, they walked right by them. No guests have ever acknowledged their presence, no visiting neighbors have ever commented. And then suddenly I understood what was going on. NOBODY CAN SEE THEM!!! My innocent-looking garden gnomes have cast a S-P-E-L-L. Why would I come to such a conclusion? Because historically gnomes have both magical powers AND the tendency to use them.
This couple makes me think of my
sweetheart and me


GNOMES IN MYTH AND LEGEND:

Gnomes form one of four groups of Elementals, according to the 16th century writings of Paracelsus. 
A gnome is an earth spirit and immortal, and there are many cultures around the world that have stories of similar mythical creatures such as the tomte of Sweden, the duende of Mexico, and the coblyn of Wales. The word gnome comes from the Greek genomos meaning "earth-dweller."

Said to be able to swim through soil and rock like a fish through water, gnomes come in several types such as Garden Gnomes, Farm Gnomes, Forest Gnomes, House Gnomes, and even Cave Gnomes. 


Most gnomes are benign*. Many are even benevolent and take an interest in the wellbeing of their surroundings --- for instance, ensuring that the soil is healthy, that plants and trees grow strong, that dwellings are clean and tools repaired, and that both wildlife and livestock are looked after.


*Disclaimer: Like humans, not all gnomes are friendly or well-intentioned. But that's a story for another day...

One of my favorite gnome figurines.
The magical powers of gnomes are similar to those of all faery tribes. They can protect or punish at will. A farmer who doesn’t take care of his animals could find himself the target of severe pranks! On the other hand, the aid of gnomes might be solicited by leaving food for them. 

In fact, some wineries in France have been rumored to take gnomes very seriously! Traditionally, the little guys looked after the vineyard soil. 


Cave gnomes are said to be particularly sympathetic to miners, and there are stories dating back to Roman times of gnomes knocking on the rocks of tin mines to warn the slaves of approaching dangers such as tunnel collapses. (Mind you, other stories tell of gnomes guarding the treasures of the earth and trying to lure miners away from them!)


Victorian England embraced
the garden gnome (but still didn't
smile while having photos taken)
HISTORY OF GARDEN GNOME FIGURINES:

Most of us are familiar with garden gnome figurines – after all, they date all the way back to Roman times! But the modern version became popular in Germany and other European countries in the early 1800s.

Replica of
"Lampy"
Victorian England embraced the gnome in the 1840s after Sir Charles Isham brought 21 terra cotta gnomes from Germany to Lamport Hall, his home in Northamptonshire. 

One of those original gnomes still survives today! “Lampy”, as he is called, is on display in the Hall and is considered the oldest garden gnome in the world. He is valued at about £2 million or $3,252,900 in US currency. 



The Griebel family still makes traditional gnomes
Although wooden gnomes had been made in Switzerland much earlier, it wasn't until the the 1800s that a handful of German companies began making them out of clay. One of those companies was started by Phillip Griebel in Thuringia. 

The other manufacturers have fallen to history but four generations later, the Griebel family tradition continues. A descendant, Reinhard Griebel (shown at left), creates gnomes at the very same location. The company boasts an impressive gnome museum too!


GNOME TRIVIA:


The Gnome Knows…
French wine label 
The Royal Gnome!
International Gnome Day is June 21st. The occasion began in 2002 and is now observed by a dozen countries.

The Gnome Knows... is a wine label from vineyards in the Languedoc region in the south of France. 

According to an official list published by Buckingham Palace, Princess Anne of the Royal Family received a garden gnome as a gift in 2013.

The German word for gnome is Gartenzwerg, which translates to garden dwarfCurrently there are about 25 MILLION gnomes in Germany alone, and at this time of year, many people will be starting to take them indoors for the winter. It's traditional (and often considered lucky) to display the gnome in the home if possible, or at least give them a dry shelf in the garden shed. 

LAST BUT NOT LEAST - 

Book 2 of the Grim Series
Book 1 of the Grim Series
The books in my new
Grim Series 
are bringing ancient 
Welsh faery legends 
to modern-day America. 

In my upcoming release,
STORM WARNED,
one character has an unexpected affinity for garden gnomes - lots and lots of them!

Watch for future announcements!

Dani Harper's Giveaway is open to International 
as well as USA entries!

LINK TO PARTICIPATING SITES:

Herding Cats And Burning Soup is the host of this blog hop.
Below is the list of over 80 participating sites, each one with a fun giveaway to enter. Happy hopping!





Summer Magic and a Summer Deadline... Plus, sign up for the Dani Harper Newsletter!

As most of you well know, this has been one HOT summer!  My years in northern Canada and Alaska have left me unprepared for triple digit temperatures. While my mountain man husband bravely sallies forth daily to subdue the garden and the yard (even at high noon - the guy is TOUGH!), I've been grateful that I have an August deadline to meet --- I get to stay indoors during most of the egg-frying-on-the-sidewalk afternoons in front of a big fan in my office!

In the evening, though, when the sun's fire has dipped below the horizon, I take pleasure in watering the many flowers, peppers and tomatoes that grow in pots on my porch (I'm actually a compulsive gardener despite hiding from the heat during the day).  

I water my gnome garden too (After my deadline, I'll be writing a blog post all about the history -- and the addictive qualities -- of GNOMES) And when the chores are done, and the moon is up, I usually sit on the porch for a while and enjoy all the truly MAGICAL things that have given me a heartful of summer memories throughout my life....  

The scent of flowers in the dark. Stars overhead, and a big golden moon emerging from behind a hill. The sultry feel of the night breeze on my skin. The song of crickets, the laughter of children camping out in their backyard, the whirring wings of a hummingbird moth as it sips from my petunias ... and now and then, the heart-stopping sounds of a few illegal fireworks from our neighborhood non-conformists... 

Stories come out on summer nights too, ideas and characters cautiously creep out from the shadows, in hopes of finding a welcome..... 
There's a powerful sense that anything can happen on a glorious summer night!

Wishing YOU some truly magical times this summer too!
Sincerely, 
Dani

The above post was written for my July 28th newsletter. 
Go to http://conta.cc/1kjzjDT to read this issue and view the giveaways!


Have YOU signed up for my newsletter yet? 

Click HERE to do so - it's free and simple. 
I send out one a month, occasionally two if there are special announcements and events. So your inbox won't be crammed!

AND DID YOU KNOW that I do a random drawing for a giveaway with EVERY newsletter issue?  
Prizes vary, according to what my  overstuffed giveaway closet has on hand. Giveaways are international unless otherwise stated.  Most importantly, you don't have to do a single thing in order to be eligible
 --  if you're an email subscriber, you're already entered!