I loved the beautiful concept art of "Frozen" and as a folklorist I find it fascinating because it shows the continued evolution of stories from one era to the next. Of course, this evolution of stories happens both because our social values change and because people forget the older ideas about fairies and trolls. So my purpose for this article is two fold; first I want to celebrate the wonderful artists who made this beautiful film possible (Check out the book "The Art of Frozen" for more about this), and second I want to share a few interesting facts from fairy lore for those interested in learning them.
Trolls, Trow, and earth spirits.
There were often rock spirits that were extremely emotionally sensitive. In Iceland it was believed that they disliked loud noises, as well as violence and so tended to try to exist in isolation. Those who ended up witnessing violence anyways would change in nature, becoming dangerous poltergeist like spirits. This could also happen if they became too scared, which is why it was illegal to bring ships with dragon heads into port in island, as there were concerns that the rock spirits would be made angry by this.
They were, however, generally helpful, mostly aiding shepherds and goatherds. Often to do this they would appear to these people in their dreams, as again their sensitivity prevented them from appearing to people directly, people having the power of the evil eye thanks to our greed and malice
The Trows of Orkney were mischievous often grotesque in appearance. Trow too would often take human children, raising them in their own world as they did Christof, though it was rare for these human children to be seen again. .They might also take great musicians and other people they loved away with them, leaving behind an empty body. Within the magical realm of the trow such people would often help those they'd left behind, for example, one girls mother was believed to have been taken this way so she was blessed with beauty and luck by the trow.
The Polish Snow Queen
The Snow Queen of Poland (named Miranda) is a heroic figure who saves the world from the undead when they rise up to conquer it. She appeared on a beautiful green island one day, no one knew from where. Her beauty was so splendid that the city and kingdom grew up around her as people traveled to live under her reign.
The lord of the underworld Kosciey decided to invade this kingdom. Princess Miranda lead her army against Kosciey and ultimately defeated them by changing him into a lump of ice. Of course Kosciey escaped and plotted a new attack which lead to a long drawn out battle.
In Japan the Yoki-onna are snow women who would often freeze people to death. Though sometimes they would seek shelter from the storm from humans. Other times they would fall in love with people, but they had to marry the human in secret because if it was revealed what had happened they would be forced to return to the cold. What was forcing them to exist as Yoki-onna is never mentioned so far as I know, and I've read dozens of stories with them.
In one story, when a young man who married a Yoki-onna mentions his previous encounter with her she grows furious and yells;
"Could you not keep your mouth shut after you’ve been silent for so long?” She scolded him. “I could kill you now, with a touch of my mouth you would freeze to death your limbs growing stiff. This would be a just punishment for what you have done for you have destroyed not only your luck mine as well. For behold,” she continued her voice assuming a calm tone, “I spared you in that lodge, because I saw you a thriving handsome young man who looked so scared and helpless before me. I felt sorry for you, but not only sorry for I felt the desire to enjoy the happiness of mankind. This is why I didn’t kill you then, for I loved you. Yes I loved you so I approached you in human form; I married you and enjoyed living with you for many wonderful years. Now you choose to destroy that, and I must return to my kingdom. I remember the happiness that I enjoyed here and my poor children which no parent would want to deprive of a father. So you may continue to live. Be a good father and find some way to atone for your present wrongs.”
If anyone has any thoughts on why the Yoki-onna are forced to live in the cold against their will I'd love to hear them.
The Valley of Lötschental Switzerland remained isolated for thousands of years, with tall mountains surrounding it, and no real roads in or out until 1907. This allowed their traditional festival Tschäggättä to survive into the modern day.
It's difficult to know the exact origins of this festival, however, it's possible that it was a way of scaring evil spirits from a village, an or honoring dark spirits as well in order to convince them to leave the village alone. Both these ideas were fairly common in ancient Europe, though again it's difficult to know the exact function of the masks in Tschäggättä.