Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's Yule-time in the City

In the City, the ancient Yule season is marked by visitation from two preternatural entities. During these twelve days--spanning the end of the month of Aforeyule and the beginning of Shiver--forces of light and dark, law and disorder, do symbolic (and sometimes actual) battle in the wintry night.

The first is of these entities is a beloved bringer of joy. Old Father Yule brings gifts to children--and rarely, adults in dire need. Not every act attributed to him is really his--tradition has gift-givers acting in his name--but the results of his actions have been seen, and the being himself encountered, too many times to be discounted. What exactly the red-robed, bearded presence is is matter of conjecture. Some hold he’s merely a powerful (and eccentric) thaumaturge, but most believe him to be an eikone, perhaps the transformed remnant of a forgotten, pagan deity, saved (Oecumenical Hierarchate averrs) by the power of the Redeemer.

Old Father Yule is a jovial fellow--unless someone tries to bar him from his rounds of gift-giving. Then, they find his mastery of the winter elements, and control over the flow of time, make him a formidable foe.

The second entity is neither beloved nor a bringer of joy. The Grumpf is a horned, furred, goat-legged humanoid, with a long and mobile tongue. The Grumpf punishes the wicked (it is supposed), but also generally creates mayhem and chaos. He runs or rides through the City, or jumps across roof-tops, frightening people and animals in the process. He damages property (particularly that of churches) in minor ways, and yells elaborate and improbable obscenities. Most seriously, he occasionally snatches up lone, and (it should be said) mostly ill-behaved, children and switches them in public view. He sometimes does the same to young ladies he finds alone--though he tends to threaten poor girls with this torment more than he actually follows through.

The ill-behavior of the young girls so menaced has never been definitively established.

Adventurers have occasion to interact with these two entities. Every year, some make a game of pursuing the Grumpf through the City. He’s occasionally been driven away for a night or two, but despite much swearing of solemn oaths (and much swearing, in general), he’s never been vanquished.

Father Yule, on the other hand, is a target of less noble interests, and sometimes comes to adventurers for aid. The Hell Syndicate never interferes with Yule, but some unbalanced, lone evil-doers seem to have a peculiar fixation on undoing the holiday. Often the adventurers Father Yule summons to his service are ones that others might say were in need of a moral lesson of some sort.  Father Yule's intentions in this regard remain mysterious.

Some have suggested that Old Father Yule and the Grumpf are actually twins--or perhaps even two sides of the same entity. A force of balance, briefly unyoking order and chaos to make a holiday more memorable-- and strange.


Unknown said...

Fantastic as usual. And I really like "Shiver" for a name of a month.

Xyanthon said...

Awesome! The City just keeps getting better and better.

Dan said...

I only recently learned of Krampus. What a fantastic folkloric figure! Of course I've always found the pagan roots of christmas (and other festivals) to be deeply fascinating.

John Matthew Stater said...


Trey said...

Thanks for the comments, guys.

@Dan - They really are interesting, aren't they? I confess until research for my couple od holiday related posts this month, I didn't know much about them, though I had heard of the Krampus.

netherwerks said...

Very cool. Love the Grumpf. Krampus+motorcycle=awesome Yule-tide goodness.

Trey said...


Harald said...

So now the question is, does it snow in the City during Yule?

Awesome stuff as usual, Trey.

God jul!

Btw, awesome word verification: hydrone

Trey said...

And a god jul to you, too, Harald!

It can snow in the City at Yule. The chance of a "White Yule" (snow on Yule Eve or Yule morn) is somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15%.

The snowiest months in the City are the first two months of the year--Shiver and Gelid--with Gelid being the snowiest, on average.