This is somewhat a follow up to my review of Rise of the Guardians.
I reflected on how I experienced the Guardians of Childhood when I was a kid and originally had added it to that post, but it was just too off topic so I put it into a post of its own. Like many children I used to believe in the „big four“ or at least to some extent.
Sandmann, lieber Sandmann…
The Sandman was a constant companion, as we have a children’s show here in Germany called „Unser Sandmännchen“ (Our little Sandman) that uses stop-motion technique to tell the story of a little man with white hair and goatee, a red cape and a pointed hat, always carrying his bag of sand wherever he went.
And he visited many places and everywhere he went the children asked him for a bedtime story. And of course he told them. We learned about the kobold Pittiplatsch and his friends Schnatterinchen (a duck) and Moppi (a dog); of Herr Fuchs (Mr. Fox) and Frau Elster (Mrs. Magpie); of the water goblin Plumps and the baby chicken Kücken and, when the versions from East and West Germany merged, also of the the piglets Piggeldy [a]nd Frederick. (Note on this: During the Division of Germany there was a version of The Sandman on both sides of the country. Nowadays they use the figurine of the East, but stories of both sides and of course new additions.)
So nearly every evening my parents would change the channel to let me watch it and let me accept that when he threw his dream sand it was time to go to bed. 😉
The Man in Red
Santa Claus or the Weihnachtsmann (literally: Christmas-man) as we call him was a phenomenon until I was about six when I realized that the guy behind the mask was in fact my dad and it was made of plastic. I think the following year I even took the mask and played Santa for my parents. Breathing was difficult underneath that plastic thing, but it was fun nonetheless. 😀
Before that it was great to tell dad that he had just missed Santa. 😀
Until I knew the truth he was pretty much a figure of respect for me, you had to do well reciting your poems if you wanted to get your present from him after all. When I knew it was just an adult dressing up I tried not to spoil the fun for the other kids, though I think I failed at that occasionally by loudly thinking…(like I did with some other things as well, but that is a story for another time).
There is a city called „Himmelpfort“ (Heavens Gate) that has one of Germany’s Christmas post offices, where kids can write to and get a reply by Santa or the „Christkind“ (Christchild) or the „Nikolaus“ – which are two other beings, said to bring presents to children. When I was a kid I once wrote them and got a reply I still have somewhere. A printed letter on green paper with drawings all around it. I don’t remember what stood actually in it, but I remember that I used a pen to redraw the angels and stars on the paper. 😀 It’s a nice idea for kids to have the chance to write the imaginary person and get a reply. And of course having this imaginary person in the first place. 🙂
Searching for eggs
Easter is still a holiday where we hide eggs for fun, though there is not much talk about the Easter Bunny any more – unless it is about the bunny that ends up as lunch. *cough*
But when we were at my grandpa’s at Easter the adults would hide little things in his garden and we kids (my cousins and I) then went to look for them. Everyone was gathered, everyone searched. It was fun.
This year was, I think, the first Easter after he passed away that we were able to spent with the family again, but we were only a few people and the only child being my cousins daughter. But my aunt wouldn’t miss the chance to also hide something for her children and me. And of course my dad and I played our little game of: „I saw this many eggs, how much have you found?“ Leaving the actual search for the others. 😀
The unknown legends
The Tooth Fairy wasn’t that present, I’m not even sure if she was mentioned at all, probably only one or two times when I lost my baby teeth…
I roughly remember complaining about the weirdness of the idea of putting my tooth under my pillow and waiting for someone to pick it up. I kind of think my mum made me put it there anyway and exchanged it for a coin somehow. Though I guess I mostly learned about her from television and I still think it’s a weird tale to tell a kid…
And here is when it becomes weird:
The first time I ever heard about „Jack Frost“ was in the „The Santa Clause 3“ movie, where he was portrayed by Martin Short. By then I wasn’t really a kid any more. The only frost „spirits“ I new were Väterchen Frost (Father Frost) from the Russian Fairy Tales and Frau Holle (Mother Hulda) from the Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the movie adaptations I watched as a child. I still feel closer to them.
The Bogeyman never really played a role either and I’m pretty sure that Pitch from RotG was only the fourth I had ever encountered. I think some of the „friends“ I had throughout childhood talked about „the Black Man“ (der Schwarze Mann, as one of his German versions is called) lurking in the dark, but my parents never tried scaring me with that.
Still lying in my room all alone at night was a completely different matter, though my room was never really dark as I had a street lamp right in front of my window. As soon as a limb would make its way out underneath the bedsheets it would be drawn in again. Even faster if it came anywhere near the floor. My bed did not have space underneath it, but there still was the floor where something could be crawling at you. But I have to admit that even now, after I’ve watched (or read) something supposedly scary the shadows seem to be even darker as they usually are.
Well, the „Fear of the Dark“ is after all something basic that is settled deep within us and I don’t think it will ever go away. It might not frighten us as it did during childhood, but you will still have this weird feeling of something watching you, just not as strongly.
As I said, Pitch was only Nr. 4 and it took me a while to learn about the concept of the Bogeyman.
My first Bogeyman ever was Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare before Christmas the main antagonist and well, the singing sack of bugs, that tried to torture „Sandy Claws„. Not really frightening, but still a Bogeyman.
Number 2 and 3 both live(d more or less) in the city of Ankh Morpork which I learned about when I read (and later watched) „Hogfather“ by Terry Pratchett. A brilliant story about an assassin „killing“ the Hogfather (the Discworld version of Santa) and DEATH fills in for him. The first Bogeyman was a minor character that got clobbered by DEATH’s granddaughter Susan in the beginning of the story. The other is the first Bogeyman ever <spoiler for anyone who still hasn’t heard about it>that became the Tooth Fairy of the Discworld, which is pretty funny if you look at the story of the RotG movie 😉 </spoiler>.
I can’t really remember any other entities that I was told about as a kid, so I guess I’ll leave it at that.
It’s always nice to rethink stuff you experienced in your childhood when learning about it in a different way and this is just one of many examples I had faced recently.
The series Once Upon a Time and Grimm made me rethink the fairy tales I grew up with. Rise of the Guardians made me think about this. And probably many more stuff I have yet to remember.
But it’s nice that a simple story can do that. 🙂
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