What Are Trolls?

Various stories, legends, beliefs about trolls in Scandinavian countries.

Trolls are said to have descended from the giants of ancient Norse history. They are sometimes considered to be harmful and mean to humans, but most people consider them more funny and mischievous than they are evil. In fact, troll stories are used most often to entertain and amuse children rather than scare them. Trolls are said to be especially friendly to children.

Trolls are very large and equally ugly. They live in the cavities of rocks and trees and in caves. They have large feet and a keen sense of hearing and smell, which is important as they have very poor eyesight. They have tough skin and a lot of hair. They also have tails. Trolls are extremely strong yet lacking greatly in intelligence. Still, they can be conniving tricksters, and are always looking for ways to get food or shiny gold and jewels from humans.

Many times, however, trolls are caught in their own traps. Yet it is not easy to kill a troll. One story goes that if a troll comes to eat you, you must offer to feed him a lot of food first. Then, when the troll isn't looking, you put a backpack on your stomach. When you sit down to eat, you take a knife and cut a hole in the backback and shovel food into it. Tell the troll that he would be able to get food to his stomach faster if he cuts a hole in it like you did. That will be the end of that troll! It has also been said that trolls can be driven or destroyed by the mention of the name of Christ or by the symbol of the cross.

In the folklore of trolls, the humans always seem to come out on top. This may be a method of showing how capable and smart man is. Trolls are also used to explain how something came to be. For example, trolls hate the noise of church bells and are said to cast big boulders at churches. But their aim is so bad that they never hit their target. Trolls may also turn into stone if they are caught in the sunlight. These are used to explain solitary rocks in clearings.

Trolls live in harmony with and even protect nature (hence their dislike of humans). They live with their extended families and work and play together. They horde gold and jewels because they enjoy the look of them.

Grumpy or otherwise disagreeable people are often labelled as trolls, and children may also be referred as such, in a more playful manner.

Troll stories and songs are passed down from one generation to the next, and have not only survived but thrived as a part of Scandinavian folklore. Sculptures and dolls are made and sold throughout the world. Trolls are a part of folklore that is truly treasured and appreciated by its people.

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