The purpose of the women's existence also varies, depending on the combination of elements that are driving their legend and the time and place in which the story is being told. Some are looking to rescue or replace the children that have been lost to them. Some appear to herald the deaths of others. And some find themselves stuck in a recursive loop, repeating their deaths over and over again, never resting and affecting nothing.
The sons tell their father where they went on their unplanned journeys and what they ate. After each son answers the father will admonish him, telling him of the dangers he could have faced. Each of these dangers centers around men and boys, which is unsurprising given that the nest was damaged by bad boys simply for the sake of causing trouble.
Before we understood the nature of sleep, and how our brain and body interact while we're sleeping, it was believed that this paralysis was caused by a literal demon, or night hag, sitting on the sleeper's chest. These night hags, or night mares, would ride the sleeper, leaving them terrified and exhausted come morning.
The sacrifice of gods and sacred kings was a sacred rite meant to bring life back to the land and ensure a bountiful harvest in the fall. It was a rite of renewal and hope.
As you can imagine, the idea is relatively simple. An item of clothing has been coated with poison on the inside so that when it touches the flesh of the victim, the poison is absorbed into their skin and they die a horrific and painful death. It's not fun but it's apparently pretty popular.
This is not a story that I was super-familiar with but apparently the rest of everyone is VERY familiar with it! It's really long for a Grimm tale, it has multiple tale types, multiple variants in multiple countries, and it MAY have influenced Tolkien. It's like a little hidden folklore bomb!
There are several stories that attempt to explain the loss of the Library of Alexandria. Some stories are very romantic and would have us believe that the library is intact but hidden beneath the sands, waiting for an intrepid librarian/explorer to find it and reveal its knowledge to the modern world.
In reading the story, it's wildly obvious that this is a Christian allegory. And while I immediately understood the reference to "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," I was a little thrown as to who the Goose Boy actually was. I mean, I may know an absurd amount when it comes to mythology and folklore but the Bible has never been an area of focus for me. So my first thought was that it was about King David, of "David and Goliath" fame.
As I noted at the top, this post in no way covers the entirety of Santa-related mythology. This is a big story and it has more branches than I could ever hope to cover. But I wanted to give y'all an idea of just how expansive and old this legend is.
this story has been told in a number of ways and the basic gist is pretty much always the same: a varying number of older brothers get turned into birds of some kind (usually swans, geese, ducks, or ravens) by a female family member that wants them to just go away and and so the clever and devoted little sister must search them out and break their curse. There are some variations that don't include the brothers turning into birds, like the North African story "Udea and Her Seven Brothers," but even that involves assistance from ravens and pigeons.