Scandinavian people from Norway to Denmark have a rich foray of traditions and stories consisting of incredible tales of goblins, fairies, elves, and other mythical creatures. Folklore is a beloved part of the Swedish culture that many families hold dear. While some mythical creatures are kind and good, others represent the forces of evil. Many mythological creatures of Scandinavian folklore have become renowned in other parts of the world through fantasy genres and popular culture.
The hulders are attractive women that are like elves, but their actions are more sinister. The huldra is believed to be beautiful women who trick innocent men into marrying them so they can lose their hollow back and tail. If her fiancée saw her back before marriage, he would see her true self. If the man tried to back out from the marriage, she would simply kill him, and if he went through with it, she would kill him anyway. A huldra who lost its tail and hollow back would dance a rune dance and leave behind a Witch Circle by the morning.
The hulders live in the forests or close to swamps in moss-affected areas with the Elven king. Believed to be pale and beautiful, they would wear white dresses and have light blonde hair. Legend says that they would often dance atop burial mounds early in the morning, and if a human saw them dancing, he would be mesmerized by their moves and end up joining them. Unfortunately, the man would eventually die as time moves very slowly in the hulders realm; what seems like a few hours can be decades in the natural world.
Swedish Pixies or Nisse
In Sweden, nisse or pixies is a household spirit that takes care of a farm or family. Usually described as a short woman or man wearing a scarlet cap, belief in the existence of these guardian spirits is an age-old tradition in Sweden. Many farms claimed to have a nisse of their own who would work on the farm by performing several chores like grooming horses or carrying bales of hay. They are known to perform these chores more effectively and efficiently than humans. Known to be short-tempered, a nisse could turn against its masters if not kept happy. In the 1940s, the nisse was thought of being the bearer of Christmas presents in Scandinavia. They earned the title of julenisse and have been closely associated with Christmas ever since.
The Dwarves of Sweden
The myths about dwarves have evolved through history. The earliest stories are of dwarves with dark hair and pale or grey skin. They were not recognized as short in the beginning, but their appearance evolved with time. Later stories describe them as short with a long beard. They would live underground as they did not like the sun. They are popularly known as master smiths, with an apt for magic, and their greed makes up for their distinct characteristics. A master of their trade, gods are reputed to have swords, armory, and shields made by the skillful dwarves.
The elves are distinguished by their names Älva for female elves and Alv for male elves. The elves are generally females who live in the depths of the forest and meadows. An elf is known to possess a beautiful and seductive appearance along with magical powers. These Älva live long lives with the Elven King. Known to be nasty when provoked, the elves can be appeased by serving sweet treats. Swedes are known to use an elf cross as protection from the evil of elves. Believed to protect people and livestock, an elf cross would be carved or painted on doors, buildings, or objects.
Trolls In Sweden
The troll is a well-known mystical creature in not only Sweden but all Scandinavian countries. Known to be against Christianity, the sound of church bells and the smell of Christians repulses trolls to date. They live in castles, under bridges, forests, lakes, mountains, or the seashore. It is believed that trolls that live in the mountains are wealthy with piles of gold and silver, while the trolls that live in isolation are deemed the most dangerous.
Trolls are known to be huge, hairy, and ugly in appearance while resembling humans slightly. Legends tell stories about trolls of all shapes and sizes, including trolls with nine heads. However, the troll can alter its physical body to appear attractive and enticing, appearing human at times. Known to despise sunlight, a troll would turn to stone if hit with a ray of the sun.
Legen of the Kraken
The kraken is the amalgamation of many sea monsters into one. Danish historian Erik Pontoppidan described the beast as round, flat, with many arms or branches. Various fishermen have unanimously affirmed the presence of this enormous beast in the Norwegian Sea. Many people are pretty familiar with this Scandinavian monster from the movies 'Clash of the Titans and 'Pirates of the Caribbean.' Some stories say that the kraken was the size of an island, while some say that it was the shape of a giant crab. Other descriptions of the kraken are that of a giant octopus that pulls ships to the depths of the Sea.
The plague of the black death was a significant tragedy for all the countries of Scandinavia. Claiming half the population in Norway and a third of Denmark, the plague eventually gave birth to a Scandinavian monster called Pesta. Known as a figure of illness, she appears in the form of an old and ugly woman dressed in black. Pesta travels from one farm to another, carrying a broom and a rake while spreading the plague. Legend says that if she was seen carrying a rake, some people might survive, but if she was seen carrying a broom, everyone on the farm was bound to die.
The Swedish legend is filled with countless unusual creatures, many of which have become part of the Western culture in the form of movie representations and novel characters.