Mythical Monsters: What Is A Troll?

Mythical monsters, what are trolls, were once feared creatures that lived in the dark forest. Today they are little dolls sold in novelty shops. This article address their history in folklore.

European mythology gives us the troll, a creature with many variations but all quite ugly and malicious. The gigantic troll was often dim witted and lived in caves with a fondness for human flesh. Eventually, dwarf sized trolls emerged from the mythology. These smaller trolls were not as large or as strong as the giant trolls, but just as dangerous.

Trolls were popular in Scandinavian folklore. There is much written about the trolls' habits, including an aversion to noise and sunlight. A troll could be destroyed by sunlight, which could turn them into stone. If a person learned a troll's name, they would have the power to destroy it, though retrieving the name of the troll often resulted in the death of the person prior to the death of the troll.

A nasty habit of the troll was to steal babies and seduce wives. This usually created an unpopularity of the troll with mankind. A troll could be warded off with mistletoe and byre and bonfires at the crossroads of the town. Many of these customs still exist today in Scandinavian culture as part of celebrations and throughout many of their holiday rituals.

Trolls lost their folklore status with the advance of Christianity. These ugly creatures were replaced with more devil-like demons, including the incubus. People's fear of trolls became less as these new demons evolved out of the myths and seemed to be more monstrous and more destructive. There were those who still feared the trolls, but the stories all but disappeared. It was difficult for a troll to compete with the demons of a Christian Hell. Though the trolls were horrible in their own right, the stories were old in nature and were not able to frighten people as they had in the past. The new demons brought new stories and new fears that overpowered the old magic of the trolls.

Today, the troll has reemerged, in part, as an important element of the Scandinavian tourist industry. Toy troll dolls can be found in many gift shops and novelty stores and many other venues. Trolls were no longer frightening, but now had become cute. They changed the appearance from ugly and deformed creatures to ones of small, clumsy and whimsical characters with big feet, big noses and lots of fuzzy big hair. In the United States, troll dolls became popular with school age children, many of them not even realizing what a troll was.

Trolls have contributed to myths of dwarves and elves, though many of these other creatures do not appear as maliciously violent or horrific looking. Legends develop differently depending on the culture and location, but they remain similar explaining different situations or events or to teach lessons. The legends of trolls are familiar to other creatures developed through literature or art, but unique in their development. They came, they conquered and they were forgotten. Now they are back and making their own individual statements as good creatures with different color hair, cute outfits and associated with bringing good luck elements to different aspects of life. A complete turn around from once being shunned and feared. Today's trolls seem lovable, though you will still find remote Scandinavians avoiding the forest late at night

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