From the NYTimes Opinion Facebook page a few days ago, I watched this little strip. It’s the work of Drew Christie Animation and Illustration. While I knew of the monsters of Germanic lore, which unsurprisingly to me, seeps into Arctic lore as well, it was enriching to learn that Japan has its own case of Monsters. Now I don’t know about the Halloweenish character of Christmas but a mountainous and barren landscape tends to widen the imagination and keep the medieval tales alive well into the 21st century.
In this time of Christmas, which in reality lasts 12 days, we remember to hold up the light, which helps to light the path before us and the world around us. The light is also to shield us from the hibernons winter, which in Northern and Germanic places and culture brought about the notions of monsters in the dark. Japan, a mountainous landscape, logically thought up the monsters of the snow covered caps too.
If you don’t know this particular Christmas tale (not that of the Nativity) then let me tell it:
There were children who were taken in by a wicked man who would throw them into an oven. Another man came by and rescued them by resurrection. Saint Nicholas of Myra was that man. Now this is one of the miracles given to the saint. He is the patron saint of sailors and children amongst other patronages. For the North of Europe, Alsace-Lorraine, Germany, Eastern Europe, Switzerland, the UK, and Belgium and the Netherlands, the celebration is on 6 December, in the form of gift-giving. The story is that if children are well behaved, they get a gift, slipped inside a stocking or the wooden shoe, as tradition wants. If they are not, they receive a visit from Black Pete. But this personnage is not a monster so the real monsters from, say, the Black Forest, should generate a huge amount of fear much more than he.
So I wanted to share the little video and quite possibly the article, which Christie wrote with it.
It is interesting how holidays now generate only happiness and consumerism these days. The folklore behind the cultures is much more vivid than the 21st century globalization gives it credit. It’s a bit of a problem and as one can see, Christie’s logic takes us into test scores. Of all of the world’s problems concerning children (school and life in general), test scores are what he takes as an example of misbehaving. Interesting is one word for it; surprise is another. Christie illustrated and animated this by taking the famous monsters of lore and proposed that many more people use them in today’s culture. On the other hand, it could simply have been a modern retelling of winter, culture and Christmas (let’s include the feast of St. Nicholas), without any indication of hinting that they should come back to scare us.
There is purpose behind every work and the artist usually has a few ideas to paint out in each one. This is the message that today depends on much, which has no value. Do the monsters of the Black Forest hold value? They count for as much value as the dead count for much respect on Hallow’s Day (1 November). Today’s Hallow’s Eve is more of a scam than the dead reminding us that not only the living exist on Earth. A Latin teacher once told us that Christmas was a sham in comparison to the Ancient Roman holiday, which took place in the end of December. Christ’s birth most probably happened in July according to historians but the priceless value of it being celebrated in December is exactly the same symbolism as the monsters haunting the towns in winter: light. Light means hope. If the children are good, then that is their light… a bit twisted that last one, I know, but what how else are we to take it?
A remedy? Hard work, determination and quite possibly a wreath of candles to aid one go through the long cold nights. Oh, and a cup of hot chocolate in this modern age.
For more work by Mr. Christie, check out his website to see what his works are about: http://www.drewchristie.com/