Ant King and Heffanutt had a wonderful Christmas celebration tonight (In Norway we celebrate 24 of December) and are getting ready for bed. Tonight they are not sleeping in their beds but together in the kitchen. When you have read what they are about to tell you, maybe you will do the same…
Heffanutt are all tucked in in warm, cozy blankets by the fireplace, only a few candles are lit, enough to see each other, but not the rest of the room. Ant King begins with a little history “lesson”;
A long time ago this night was the most dangerous night of the year, the night when the wall between our world and the underworld disappeared. This was the night when all creatures you could imagine roamed free outside of your door – and even some of them came to visit….
Wonder why Ant King and Heffanutt chose the kitchen and not the livingroom where there is a comfy sofa to sleep in? Back in the old days after Christmas dinner you would not put the food away but leave it for everyone to have a snack when they felt like it. It would stay outside to everything was eaten. But it was another perhaps more important reason for not puttig the food away, because at night a very importen visit would enter your home – your deceased familymembers. At night it was there time to have a feast and stay at home once again as they did when they were alive. Sleeping in the kithchen, Heffanutt and Ant King would not disturb them, and when the deceased familymembers got tired they would go to bed – Giving up your bed to them was a way of showing respect, and besides you would not want to sleep in your bed when someone else, no longer alive tucked in under the duvet with you. Not only because it was unpleasant, but because it was dangerous too…..
Heffanutt is telling a story he heard when he was little; “It was a Christmas night a long time ago (from the fairytale “An old-fashioned Christmas eve by Asbjørnsen and Moe. A short version written as Heffanutt remember it) a servant suddenly woke up from her dream. Wondering what time it was she got out of bed and looked out the window – at this time of the year it would be dark at the time se usually got up to attend here chores – and discovered the church was lit. Oh, she must have slept to long she thought, and hurried to dress and run to morning mass. The church was alredy full of people, but she managed to get a seat far back. The mass went on in its usual way, but as she looked around she could not help but feel a bit uneased. There where a lot a people there, but no one really familiar, she thought she had seen a few but could not remember where. And the priest was not the one she was used too…. She bearly held back a scream when she discovered who was sitting beside her.. a neighbor who had pased a few years ago… She had entered the deads mass, going to church in the middle of the night.. The neighbor who in her living days was a nice and friendly old lady, whispered to her to put the coat loosely arond her shoulders and to hurry out of church before the mass ended. If she was still there in the end of mass she would not come home alive. The servant did as she was told, and as she left the room it felt like hands was trying to hold her back, grasping her coat. At the moment she reched the door she let go of her coat, and by that she was able to get out and run home to safety. The next morning when people went to church to the real morning mass, they found shreds only of what once was the servants coat”
Both Ant King and Heffanutt shivered, slowly moving closer to each other, seeking comfort from a friends company. Heffanutts eyes fluttered back and forth trying to see if something was hiding in the dark corners of the room.
You know, there is something else too said Ant King. There is more? said Heffanutt, his eyes wide open. Don`t go outside until sunrise tomorrow Ant King continued. Heffanutt not even thinking of the possibility to go outside after dark slowly shook his head.
Ant King carried on; “You must hide from the Åsgårdsreia or Julereia. It`s the Norwegian version of The wild hunt, a gathering of dangerous offenders, gangsters, criminals, deceased ones, and creatures of all kinds who rode on horses through the air. They caused violence and damage wherever they came, filled water in the beer barrels, ate up Christmas food, announced fights, killing and suicide. They abducted people and horses who came in their way. It was important that the yard was cleared and all the tools used outside were carried in so that Åsgårdsreia did not stumble on its way and caused accidents on the farm.
In order to protect yourself, you could place steel in strategic places, in the grain, in the hay, at the well, an axe or knife was stuck over the farmhouse and stall door and above the animals. The presence of steel should prevent the evil ones from entering the house. Usually, the tools stayed there all Christmas. In Christian times, crosses could be used the same way, painting them with tar across entrance doors and above the animals”
On quick paws fast as a lightening Heffanutt ran to the old stove and grabbed all loose parts of iron, and carried it back to bed. One can say with certainty no one slept that night of Christmas in Heffanutt and And Kings house.
Good night and sleep tight