Things we take for granted, like phrases or legends or the honesty of people we know, sometimes those things can turn out to have an altogether different meaning. But nowhere is this more true than within the world of folklore and belief, because when it comes to the traditions we love, it’s easy to allow emotional attachment to blind us to the real stories behind it all. And what better way to see this concept in action than by exploring one of the most celebrated times of the year: Christmas.
Aaron Mahnke gives the gift of Lore in this seasonally-themed episode (the podcast’s last original one of 2021). The host regales his audience with the legends of the Mari Lwyd and the diabolical, child-eating holiday boogeyman, the “Christmas Scarecrow” Hans Trapp. Mahnke invokes Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, linking the famous novel to a discussion of the Puritan ban on traditional Christmas celebrations–such as the telling of spooky stories–two centuries earlier during England’s Commonwealth period. Another legendary English story, that of the White Lady of Bramshill House (whose haunting traces back to a game of hide-and-seek that went terribly awry during a Christmas Day wedding reception), is also shared. And Halloween lovers will take joy when Mahnke recounts how Christmastime rituals of masking/begging evolved into the American practice of trick-or-treating. This holiday episode stuffs the stocking with an assortment of narrative presents and provides a fine listening experience to close out the year.