Holiday Warning: The Erlking

As the magical month of December dawns it brings with it a sack full of Christmas traditions: holiday movies (like ElfDie Hard II, and Hellboy II), holiday music (like Sequentia's Aquitanian Polyphony, Mannheim Steamroller, and Nat King Cole) festive foods, lights, presents, various pieces of flora brought inside the house...

However, there's one winter tradition that you might want to think twice about embracing: The Erlking. Yes, there's nothing like Teutonic folklore to put the chill back into December. Goethe says it best:

Who's riding so late through the night and wind?
It is the father with his child;
He cradles the boy safe in his arm,
Holding him tightly, keeping him warm.

Son, why are you hiding your face in such fear?
Don't you see, father, the Erlking there?
The Erlking wearing crown and train?
My son, it is a strip of fog.

You lovely child, come go with me.
Such pretty games I'll play with you.
Many colorful flowers are on the beach.
My mother has many a golden dress.

Father, my father, can't you hear
What Erlking is promising under his breath?
Be quiet, stay quiet, child;
The wind whispers in dry leaves.

Won't you come along, my fair boy?
My daughters will care for you well;
My daughters lead the round dance at night
and rock, and dance, and sing you to sleep.

Father, my father, can't you see over there
the Erlking's daughters in the dark?
Son, my son, I see it for sure:
The old willows appear so grey.

I love you. I'm drawn by your beautiful shape:
And if you're not willing, I will use force.
Father, my father, he's clutching me now.
Erlking has done me harm.

The father shudders. He's riding fast.
He holds in his arms the groaning child,
Reaches the farm, desperate and spent;
In his arms, the child was dead.


I drew a picture of this grisly scene, of all places at my nephew's house when Jess and I were babysitting. May it stand as a warning to all to be safe this holiday season and use caution when traveling through misty, mysterious forests!

Don't let this happen to you! Shop early and always check the traffic reports!

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