Saturday, December 17, 2016

Dark Legends

by Chloe Ellefson, Museum Curator

The Chloe Ellefson Mysteries

by Kathleen Ernst







Most of us like to think of the holiday season as a time of comfort and joy, special food traditions, maybe candlelight services and time spent with family.

But have you ever thought about what this time was like for your ancestors, centuries ago? If you're of European or British heritage, chances are good they dreaded this season.

I imagine some of my forbears living in remote valleys in Norway. This was the darkest time of year.

Ancient legends told of evil spirits lurking in the shadows, and of wild bands of the undead riding through the sky, looking to snatch any hapless human foolish enough to be outdoors at night.

The Wild Hunt, by Peter Nicolai Arbo (1872)
Families spread straw on their floors and slept huddled together for protection. Some believed that sacrificing a goat, and leaving the head on a pole in front of their home, would ward away evil.

(Happily, as time passed the real goat head was often replaced with an effigy.)
Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum

Now, you may be thinking this is all part of the ancient past. Such pagan beliefs were set aside long ago, right?

But after visiting Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in December, and being immersed in all things Norwegian...well, all I can say is that some dark traditions just might still linger.

My visit began by finding a body in an antique immigrant trunk.  

Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum
Things only got worse from there. Before too long I found myself glancing at the bitter night sky myself, wondering if there truly were evil spirits about...

Well, you can read all about it. I'm off to light a candle against the darkness. I wish all of you a peaceful and bright holiday season!


***
GIVEAWAY!  Leave a comment below, and you'll be entered to win a copy of Heritage of Darkness, the 4th Chloe Ellefson Mystery. The Giveaway ends at midnight on Sunday, December 18th. The winner will be announced on Monday, December 19th. Please include your email.


To learn more about the award-winning Chloe Ellefson mysteries, click HERE.

Like Chloe, I wish you all peace and hope this holiday season!


Kathleen

50 comments:

  1. The Chloe Ellefson mysteries are great. I've enjoyed a couple of them, so far and can't wait to read more. Merry Christmas! dbahn(at)iw(dot)net

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  2. This is a new to me series. Thank you for the chance!
    karen(dot)kenyon(at)rogers(dot)com

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  3. Oh wow, it sounds wonderful. I would love to read this one. Enjoy the past.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

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  4. I would love to read this book. Zeta(at)iwon(dot)com

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  5. This sounds great. Thank you for the chance to win. Dmskrug3 at hotmail dot com

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  6. This sounds awesome. It's a new series for me.
    skforrest1957(at)gmail(dot)com

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  7. I enjoy reading about the past and I love mysteries! Thanks for this giveaway.
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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  8. Happy holidays and thanks for the giveaway.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

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  9. I always love a new to me series. Thanks for the chance to win utaker555(at)gmail(dot)com

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  10. Im new to the group and new to the books. Would love to win them. Cant wait to get started reading. debanwatson@yahoo.com

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  11. Thanks for your lovely giveaway. Have a wonderful holiday. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  12. Oh, I'd love to win this!!! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas! bobwiesmann(at)gmail(dot)com

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  13. I love to light candles but I'm not having anything to do with goat heads LOL njcar22@aol.com

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  14. Merry Christmas! Thanks for the story and the giveaway! bobandcelia@sbcglobal.net

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  15. This sounds wondeerful - I'd love to read it.
    teabird17 **at** yahoo ^^ dot ^^ com

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  16. Thanks for the giveaway which interests me very much. Wishing you a Merry Christmas. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  17. New author, new series is so exciting. Thanks for the intro. Book looks like a great read! Thanks for the chance to get it. Have yet to read this author. The synopsis on her books are so intriguing. They are now on my list. Do hope this will be an early start and a short reduction to my TBR. Really live the premise. some of those old customs, superstitions have gone to the way side. But many have not. Some have been given new names. Della at deepotter (at) peoplepc ((dot) com

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  18. My candle is lit. I'm off to find something to make a goat head effigy.
    cjreynolds52(at)comcast(dot)net

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  19. We have the candles in the windows but our Christmas spirit went out the window as when we were at church our 2 tires were slashed then while moving it they bent the rim. Then last week I had a test at the dr that brought bad news then my husband got laid off on Tues so there hasn't been anything for the good except i keeep playing the christmas music and talking to my kids in Ca whom i miss so much haven't seen them in years. I would love to read in print and also post a few reviews for this book.I haven;t read the others so it would be so exciting now its snowing and my wheelchair doesn't do good in the snow and the scooter slides well tomorrow is church a start of a new week fingers crossed. ptclayton2@aol.com

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  20. New author for me. Thanks for the chance.
    Jhdwayne(at)peoplepc(dot)com

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  21. My candle is lit too! I'm reading memory of muskets now, love it. Thanks for the chance. Merry Christmas!

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  22. I wish for a peace filled 2017. Please!

    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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  23. Cool! I have a few of these books. Debbie dalubbert(at)(hotmail)(dot)(com)

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  24. I wonder how long people would leave that sacrificed goat head outside their home.
    turtle6422(at)gmail(dot)com

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  25. Sometimes I forget that things were so frightening in the past. Even the fairytales. My visit to Norway never gave me the info you just did. I just saw viking ships and a bunch of trolls.
    nerdsrgood AT msn DOT com

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  26. This cold dark season could easily make me think I'm seeing or hearing evil spirits----especially if the power would go out. I'm hibernating with this below zero weather here in Minnesota.
    Thanks for the contest---I'd love to have a good book to read.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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  27. Sounds like a dark book but I would like to try it.
    thanks for the offer.
    Mary Lou at txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  28. What an interesting post. Sounds like an interesting read. Thanks for the chance. Merry Christmas.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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  29. It sounds interesting. I haven't had the had the chance to read any of this series yet. My name is Debbie Wroble email jsister98@gmail.com

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  30. reading this as i look outside and realize that is 'pitch black' by 4:45 these days. cannot wait for the solstice knowing that the light will be stronger and stronger every day.

    i enjoy this series so very much -- for the things that i learn as well as the memories of my time as a 'pioneer life gallery' demonstrator!

    thank you! and happy holidays, too. jbeverly@illinois.du

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  31. So thankful there are no goat heads in our family traditions! Happy Holidays. servedogmomATyahooDOTcom

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  32. Love to read all about it! Finding a body in an antique immigrant trunk at the characters very start of her visit sounds very intriguing! Happy Holidays and thank you!!
    oh_bother88@hotmail.com

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  33. Can't Wait to read it!
    woofmew @ aol .com

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  34. I am love learning about different cultures beliefs. And what things used to be like. So many people say that history isn't important. But I am always so interested about the things of the past. I've never read this seroes, but it sounds great! Thamks for the chance to win! magicgirl2357@yahoo.com

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  35. Fascinating thank you.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  36. I am just starting to read this series & would love to win this. Thanks for an interesting post & great giveaway. doward1952(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  37. Learning about other traditions and a mystery thrown in! Perfect. cheers@marjimmanor.com

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  38. Ooh! I've never thought about my ancestors and holidays. I only try to do traditions that I know...Very interesting! I like lighting a candle against the dark...Awesome!

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  39. I've researched my ancestors on my paternal side and found they were from England. My maternal side was a little difficult since most of my mother and her siblings have passed on and cousins don't have much information. My faith in God puts the fear of darkness far far away from my concerns. Thanks for including this story and book on your blog. robeader53(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  40. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of superstitions arn't rooted in a lot of old legands. This sounds very interesting. Thanks for this opportunity.

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  41. forgot the mail info. Mine is jluebke (at) frontier (dot) com

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  42. your books look really good, I am happy to see this giveaway and know of you. Georgia
    queenvictoria50 (at) aol (dot) com

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  43. I hope you all have a fabulous Holiday season and a very Merry Christmas. This series is one I hope to read very soon. thanks for the information and the chance to win. kayt18 (at) comcast (dot) net

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  44. Such a super series but I missed this one!

    kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

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  45. I love that trunk, Too Bad a Body was in it. I'm hoping that is just in the book and not real. I haven't read any of these yet. They sound great. Thanks for the chance to win iamabho (at) gmail (dot) com

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  46. Fascinating topic. The goat effigy reminds me strongly of Adam Nevill's Scandinavian horror novel, RITUAL.

    archie.standwood.author at Gmail.com

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  47. New author for me. The books look great. Will be adding these books to my TBR pile. Thanks for the opportunity to win. choirlady27(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  48. I wonder what the neighbors would say if I posted goat skulls around the property

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