European Creatures

“We cannot aim at anything less than the Union of Europe as a whole, and we look forward with confidence to the day when that Union will be achieved.”

Winston Churchill

IllustrationEuropeIsNotDead already published an article on European monsters, and it seems that you rather enjoyed it. It’s true, we sometimes have a passion for bad boys and vile creatures. It may have something to do with our inner gothic selves… But what about nice and harmless creatures? The ones we would love to host in our houses or set off for an adventure with? The ones we tend to disregard because they are too kind or too cute to be frightening? It’s time for changes! The following list of European creatures pays tribute to the most amazing magical and mythological beings of the old continent. You will discover that some creatures are fascinating. They can make you rich in Ireland, bring you gifts in Italy, warn you of upcoming troubles in Turkey, dig you out of an avalanche in Switzerland or protect your city in Czech Republic. They can speak our language in Belgium, fly in Greece, teach strangers to play the fiddle in Norway or… make roosters crow in Bosnia. Some are quite funny, others, rather powerful and most of them, very mysterious.

European Creatures

Portugal

Portugal - European creature - Moura EncantadaMoura encantada

Just imagine… you wander around in the forest, listening to your favorite tune on your Ipod when you suddenly stumble on a beautiful young lady singing and combing her beautiful long hair, golden as gold or black as the night with a golden comb. You already feel lucky to encounter such a great creature, but wonders are not over. The young Enchanted Moura promises to give you treasures if you set her free by breaking her spell. No small asterisk in the contract, no hidden footnotes in the agreement: she won’t take your soul in exchange. The legend does not say how to break the spell, but you’ll do it fine, there must be an online app for this as well. Once you have broken the spell, great treasures will be given to you as this feminine genie, or Moura encantada, guards enchanted castles, miraculous caves, magical bridges and mythical rivers. You found love, you’re rich, for sure: it’s your lucky day…

Spain

Spain - European creature - GamusinoGamusino

Spanish children are convinced that they have already seen this imaginary creature. New students are asked to hunt this animal on their first weeks of graduate studies. Novice fishermen are told they could a day grab one while new hunters keep their fingers crossed to encounter one. Have you ever heard about the Gamusino? If not, it’s maybe good for you, as it means you are not that gullible. This elusive animal is actually a pure Spanish joke that people tell to novices. In summer camps for instance, monitors use the gamusino as a game for young children at night. They are invited to go hunting gamusinos. During the walk, children keep asking about how they look like. Monitors feed their imaginations with some details for children to think that they have seen a gamusino between trees. Chances are high that a stone or a trunk in the dark serves this purpose.

France

France - European creature - DahuDahu

Everybody knows it exists but nobody has even seen it in real… What a strange paradox for this harmless animal which is said to live in the alpine mountains. The Dahu has the appearance of a deer or ibex, but with the principal characteristic that its legs on one side of its body are shorter than on the other side. This enables it to walk upright on the steep slopes of its mountain environment. It sounds like a joke, doesn’t it? It could be the case as the popularity of the dahu began to soar toward the end of the 19th century when the budding tourism industry brought to the mountains wealthy city dwellers with a somewhat arrogant attitude and a paltry knowledge of the countryside. The mountaineers working as hunting guides took advantage of the gullibility of some tourists to lure them into the “dahu hunt”.  To all explorers: Good luck with the hunt!

Iceland

Iceland - European creature - HuldufólkHuldufólk 

There is a belief in Iceland that you should always respect: never throw stones! Why? Because of the possibility of hitting the Huldufólk. The Huldu-what? The Huldufólk! These famous Icelandic elves, also known as the hidden people. They are elves, trolls and invisible people who live preferentially in the mountains and rocks where they build their cities, the Álagablettur. The hidden people are not easy neighbor’s, as they also dislike crosses, churches and electricity. Many Icelanders claim to believe in elves, so that, building projects in Iceland are sometimes altered to prevent damaging the rocks where Huldufólk are believed to live. It is customary in Iceland to clean the house before Christmas, and to leave food for the Huldufólk on Christmas. On New Year’s Eve, it is believed that the elves move to new locations, and Icelanders leave candles to help them find their way…

Ireland

testIRLeprechaun

There are in the world and especially in Ireland, little bearded man, wearing a green coat and a green hat. They are magical solitary creatures who spend their time making and mending shoes and have a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Leprechauns are supposedly very well spoken and, if ever spoken to, could make good conversation. If you succeed in capturing one, the leprechaun will grant you three wishes in exchange for their freedom. How to catch one? According to legend, if anyone keeps an eye fixed upon one, he cannot escape, but the moment the gaze is withdrawn, he vanishes. So keep an him on him! The original Irish name for these figures of folklore is lobaircin, meaning small-bodied fellow. They are a class of “faerie folk” associated in Irish mythology and folklore, as with all faeries, with the Tuatha Dé Danann said to have inhabited Ireland before the arrival of the Celts.

United Kingdom

United Kingdom - European creature - NessieNessie

On 12 November 1933, a young Brit on holidays in the Scottish Highlands was walking along the loch Ness after church when he spotted a substantial commotion in the water. A large creature rose up from the lake. He took several pictures of it, but only one of them showed up after they were developed. On the glossy paper appeared a strange creature with a long tail and thick body swimming at the surface of the loch… The myth of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, was born and with it, growing popular interest for decades to come. According to common descriptions, Nessie bears a striking resemblance to the supposedly plesiosaur, a long-necked aquatic reptile that went extinct during the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. Since its first apparition, Nessie has been researched and studied by several academics and explorers. Without much success so far…

Norway

Norway - European creature - FossegrimFossegrim

The trees dance and waterfalls stop at his music. The sounds of forest, wind and water play over his fiddle strings. The Norwegian Fossegrim is certainly an exceptionally talented fiddler. If you meet him in a river, do not be afraid: the fossegrim is said to be willing to teach away his skills in exchange for a food offering made on a Thursday evening and in secrecy: a white he-goat thrown with head turned away into a waterfall that flows northwards, or a fenalår (smoked mutton) stolen from the neighbour’s storage four Thursdays in a row. If there is not enough meat on the bone, he will only teach you how to tune the fiddle. But if the offering is satisfactory, he will take your right hand and draw the fingers along the strings until they all bleed, after which you will be able to play. Once back to your community, tables and benches, cup and can, gray-beards and grandmothers will dance on your music…

Sweden

Sweden - European creature - TallemajaTallemaja

Tallemaja is a troll-like flirtatious, young girl who lives in the woods and is neither good nor evil. She is fair and beautiful, but also wild and has a long cow-tail which she hides behind her back upon meeting a human. If Tallemaja can convince a mortal man to marry her in a Christian church, her tail will fall off and she will become human, but she will also lose her beauty. It is said that Adam and Eve had many children, and that one day, when Eve was giving them a bath, God came to visit. Eve had not finished bathing all of her children, and so hid those who were still dirty. God asked: “Are there not more children?” and when Eve said no, God said: “Then let all that is hidden, remain hidden,” and the hidden children became De Underjordiske (the lost souls living underground). Tallemaja was one of them, but she somehow remained above the ground…

Finland

Finland - European creature - OtsoOtso

Just like Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter, there are in Finland creatures that have never been directly named. Some call them Otso, others Ohto or Kontio and others metsän kuningas for the King of the Forest or mesikämmen for honeypalm. They look like bears, but are considered to be relatives who had fled the community and been transmogrified by the power of the forest. In Finland a bear is thought to be an intelligent and soulful creature. It is no ordinary animal but some sort of human being living in a forest. It can count at least to nine and it can understand the language of man. Even though a bear has the strength of nine men it will not attack a human being without a good reason. According to the tradition, if a bear had to be killed, a sacred ritual was held, and the bear’s spirit in the form of its skull remained in a sacred clearing which was upkept, and people would bring tributory gifts to it.

Denmark

Denmark - European creature - NisseNisse

They are not taller than three feet. They have a long white beard and they wear a conical or knit cap in red or some other bright color. They are said to live in the lofts of old farmhouses. The Danes love gnomes, or as they call them: Nisse, the small creatures who play pranks on people during Christmastime. Before Denmark had a Santa Claus figure, they had what was called either nisserfar, nisserkongen, or julenisse: the Gnome Father. He didn’t come down the chimney at night, but through the front door, delivering the presents directly to the children. During Christmas, each family had to pay special attention to their household julenisse. They must especially leave him some risengrød – or sweet rice porridge – on Christmas Eve. Since Nisse are thought to be skilled in illusions and sometimes able to make themselves invisible, one was unlikely to get more than brief glimpses of them.

Netherlands

Netherlands - European creature - Witte WievenWitte Wieven

How lucky you are if you meet one of the Witte Wieven in the Netherlands. Because they are thought to be wise female herbalists and medicine healers who take care of people’s physical and mental ailments. Better than a Thalassotherapy! Historically, Witte Wieven were said to have some talent for prophecy and looking into the future. They tended to reside in the burial sites and other sacred places. These “Wise women” had a high status in the Dutch communities, and so when they died ceremonies were held at their grave sites to honour them. It was thought that mist on a gravehill was the spirit of the wise woman appearing, and people would bring them offerings and ask for help. In some localities, the mythological witte wieven were described directly as “Alfen” or “Alven”.

Luxemburg

Luxemburg - European creature - MelusineMelusine

She looks like a mermaid, she is enchanted much like a mermaid and she behaves pretty like a mermaid. But she is not a mermaid. Melusine is a feminine spirit of fresh waters in sacred springs and rivers. She is particularly famous in France, the Netherlands, Belgium and above all Luxemburg. She is usually depicted as a woman who is a serpent or fish from the waist down with sometimes wings, two tails, or both. Raymond of Poitou came across Melusine in a forest and proposed marriage. Melusine laid a condition: that he must never enter her chamber on a Saturday. He broke the promise and saw her in the form of a part-woman, part-serpent, but she forgave him and disappeared. Since then, Melusine surfaces briefly every seven years as a beautiful woman or as a serpent, holding a small golden key in her mouth. Whoever takes the key from her will set her free and marry her…

Belgium

Belgium - European creature - BayardBayard

Anyone would love to ride the horse Bayard, renowned for his spirit, his capacity to understand human speech and his supernatural ability to adjust his size to his riders. According to the legend, Bayard was capable of carrying the knight Renaud de Montauban and his three brothers all at the same time to escape the wrath of the king. The Knight was nevertheless forced to cede Bayard to Charlemagne who, as punishment for the horse’s exploits, had a large stone tied to Bayard‘s neck and had him pushed into the river. Bayard however smashed the stone with his hooves and escaped to live forever more in the woods. Outside the town of Dinant stands nowadays a “Bayard rock”, a large cleft rock formation that was said to have been split by Bayard’s mighty hooves. The Bayard legend is also celebrated in other towns in Belgium most notably in Dendermonde.

Germany

Germany - European creature - WolpertingerWolpertinger

The German Wolpertinger is like no other creature. This mythological hybrid mammal has a body comprising various animal parts — generally wings, antlers, tails and fangs. The most widespread description portrays the Wolpertinger as having the head of a rabbit, the body of a squirrel, the antlers of a deer, and the wings and occasionally the legs of a pheasant. According to the (Bavarian) legend, Wolpertinger are considered very shy.  The legend also says that one must be drunk in order to see them. Wolpertinger are said to be attracted to the scents of the Brewfest. A drunk hunter can track them using beast tracking. Another hunting method consists in catching them with some salt put on their tail. What is known is that taxidermists began to compose creatures in the 19th century from different animals and sell them to gullible tourists. But who would have them in their living room?

Switzerland

Switzerland - European creature - BarbegaziBarbegazi

There was no doubt that our Swiss friends would come out with a very specific winter creature. So here comes the Barbegazi, fully covered with pure white body hair, lots of facial hair, pointed ears and ice-blue eyes. What sets the Barbegazi apart physically from most other species of gnome are their large feet which allow them to easily walk and ski over snow as well as dig tunnels. Unlike most hibernating mammals, Barbegazi hibernate during warm weather and emerge only after the first heavy snowfall of winter. Because of their penchant for high altitudes and low temperatures, they are rarely sighted by humans, but they sometimes help shepherds round up lost sheep. Their greatest known excitement is surfing on avalanches, but they are said to give low whistling cries to warn humans of the danger above, sometimes digging humans out from the snow…

Italy

Italy - European creature - BefanaBefana

You didn’t have enough gifts for Christmas? Or you find that Santa Claus is a bit old fashioned and lack of charisma? Try going to Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to encounter the famous Italian Befana, this old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout the country. Befana visits all the children of Italy  to fill their shoes with candy and presents if they are good. Or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad. Traditionally, all Italian children may expect to find a lump of “coal” in their stockings, as every child has been at least occasionally bad during the year. Popular tradition tells that if one sees La Befana one will receive a thump from her broomstick, as she doesn’t wish to be seen. Many people believe that the name Befana is derived from the Italians’ mispronunciation of the Greek word epifania or epiphaneia…

Austria

Austria - European creature - HabergeißHabergeiß

The Habergeiß is a goat-bird hybrid creature of multiple appearances in Austrian and Germanic folklore. The name ‘Haber’ means buck or he-goat and the word ‘geiss’ means she-goat in Austrian German. Originally the Habergeiß was a spirit of corn who was called upon by ancient people of Austrians and Germans to help create a good harvest during autumn. Later, after the advent of Christianity to Europe, the creature was unfortunately demonized. It was portrayed as a goat, a three-legged bird with the face of a goat, or as a hybrid between a bird and a goat. Every 5th of January the Habergeiß is represented at the annual Perchtenlauf where the people on the march hit on the legs of the spectator with birch twigs. It becomes a horned goat represented by two men. One man wears the horned mask and the other playing the back quarters of the beast. It jumps about, snapping at people.

Czech Republic

Czech Republic - European creature - GolemGolem

We already discussed the role of the Golem in the article related to European legends but let’s describe more in-depth this unusual creature. The Golem is a creature made out of clay or inanimate matter into which life has been injected by magical means. The Hebrew word Golem means “something incomplete” or “unfinished”. The most famous narrative related to a Golem involves Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the late 16th century rabbi of Prague, who reportedly created a Golem to defend the Prague ghetto from antisemitic attacks. It was said that he could make himself invisible. The only care required of the Golem was that he couldn’t be active on the day of Sabbath. Interesting facts: the Golem is not supposed to be intelligent. If commanded to perform a task, he will perform the instructions literally. This explains why the Golem appears in many depictions as inherently perfectly obedient.

Slovakia

Slovakia - European creature - Vtak OhnivakVták Ohnivák

There are in Slovakia magical glowing birds from a faraway land, which are both a blessing and a bringer of doom to their captors. They answer to the name of Vták Ohnivák but have many other names in other countries, and are internationally called “Firebirds”. The Firebird is described as a large bird with majestic plumage that glows brightly emitting red, orange, and yellow light, like a bonfire that is just past the turbulent flame. The feathers do not cease glowing if removed, and one feather can light a large room if not concealed. A typical role of the Firebird in fairy tales is as an object of a difficult quest. The quest is usually initiated by finding a lost tail feather, at which point the hero sets out to find and capture the live bird, sometimes of his own accord, but usually on the bidding of a king. The Firebird is a marvel, highly coveted, but the hero, initially charmed, eventually blames it for his troubles.

Poland

Poland - European creature - LeshyLeshy

He from the Forest” or Leshy is a creature much like the Finish Otso. This environmental-friendly spirit lives in forests and serves as protector of the various forests and its animals, having a close bond with gray wolves and often being accompanied by bears. Leshy has naturally the form of a large human-looking being, but can shape-shift into any plant or animal. As he wanders away from the center of his forests, he grows smaller. By the time he has reached the forest’s edge, he is tiny enough to hide under leaves. Even tough the folklore describes this spirit as non-evil, he is very mischievous as he wanders around the forests. Leshy has for instance been known to remove signs and steal axe heads from woodcutters. Most commonly he will engage in misleading travelers on wrongful paths deeper into their kingdom of trees. But he will eventually let most travelers go.

Lithuania

Lithuania - European creature - AitvarasAitvaras

When you settle in a Lithuanian house, you don’t expect that the place is already occupied by a very strange creature, the Aitvaras. What does it look like? Well, you wouldn’t expect it, but Aitvaras looks like a white or black rooster with a fiery tail. But do not be afraid! Aitvaras are housekeepers or, better said, household spirits. In many cases, this Lithuanian creature is described as having the appearance of a rooster while indoors and the appearance of a dragon outdoors. An Aitvaras will lodge itself in a house and will most often refuse to leave. It brings both good and bad luck to the inhabitants of the house. Aitvaras provide their adopted home with stolen gold and grain, often getting the household into trouble. You want one as well? Easy, an Aitvaras may hatch from an egg of a 9- to 15-year-old rooster. But if the Aitvaras dies, he becomes a spark.

Latvia

Latvia - European creature - LaumaLauma

Latvians have a nice forest fairy to introduce you: Lauma. Originally a sky spirit, her compassion for human suffering brought her to earth to share our fate. Lauma looks like a black-haired naked, pretty woman who lives in the stone piles in the forest. When a traveller meets her, she comes with him and pretends to be a perfect, caring and a very nice wife. The bad thing in it, is that she can’t have any children because she’s a spirit, not a human. Lauma has also the reputation of being an assistant at birth, assuring the health and welfare of both mother and child. If the mother does not survive, or gives the child up, she takes on the role of spiritual foster mother for the child. She spins the cloth of life for the child, but weeps at the fate of some. The fact that the cloth can, to a degree, weave itself, indicates a higher power than Lauma.

Estonia

Estonia - European creature - Suur TollSuur Tõll

Here comes a great giant hero who lived according to the legend on the Baltic Sea island of Saaremaa. Suur Tõll, or in English Toell the Great, tossed huge rocks everywhere, mostly aiming for his archenemy Vanatühi or other enemies of Saaremaa people. Tõll was king of Saaremaa but he lived as common farmer. He often visited his brother Leiger on the neighboring Hiiumaa island. Tõll was always kind and ready to help, but very hot-tempered. He loved to eat cabbage, drink beer and, as every Estonian, go to the sauna. Folk legends concerning Suur Tõll have been part of the local oral culture for centuries already. To this day, the islanders still believe that in case of a great threat to the land he so dearly loved, Töll will wake up and help his people !

Belarus

Belarus - European creature - AlkonostAlkonost

Let me introduce you to one of the most amazing creature of Europe. It makes sounds that are amazingly beautiful, and those who hear these sounds forget everything they know and want nothing more ever again. The Alkonost is a fabulous creatures who lives in the underworld with her counterpart the siren. The Alkonost lays her eggs on a beach and then rolls them into the sea. When the Alkonost‘s eggs hatch, a thunderstorm sets in and the sea becomes so rough that it is untravelable. According to one version of Slavic folklore, she is able to regulate the weather to her liking; there is a calm before a storm for seven days until the eggs fully hatch. It is not known for certain where the myth truly originates from but it is believed that the mythical beings may stem back to Greek Mythology. The name would come from a Greek demigoddess whose name was Alcyone.

Ukraine

Ukraine - European creature - IndrikIndrik

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba” You remember the opening song of the Lion King? This could work as well for the Ukrainian Indrik, often considered as the king of all animals. Why? Because the Indrik is a fabulous beast who lives on a mountain known as “The Holy Mountain” where no other foot may tread. When it stirs, the Earth trembles. The word “Indrik” is a distorted version of the Russian word edinorog which means unicorn. The Indrik is indeed described as a gigantic bull with legs of a deer, the head of a horse and an enormous horn in its snout, making it vaguely similar to a rhinoceros. The folklore creature actually gave its name to Indricotherium, the biggest land mammal ever to live. “Ingonyama Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala…“, “Ingonyama Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala…

Romania

Romania - European creature - ZanaZână

There are in Romania nice fairies which would be the equivalent of elves and are always looking to be kind and benevolent. These characters make positive appearances in fairy tales and reside mostly in the woods. Zână give life to fetuses in utero and bestow upon them great gifts like the art of dancing, beauty, kindness, and luck. In folk tales, it is told not to upset them because they also have the power to do bad things or put a curse on the wrongdoer. They also act like guardian angels, especially for children who enter the woods, or for other good people. They do so under the guise of being a child’s imaginary friend for as long as the child needs them, but once the child no longer needs them, the Zanna leaves and moves on to another child. But pay attention when speaking about Zână in Romania, as it is also the same word used in current Romanian slang to refer to an attractive girl…

Moldova

Moldova - European creature - SolomonarSolomonar

The Solomonars are said to be tall people, red-haired, wearing white capes on their shoulders and magic tools around their waists and they are most often seen around begging for alms or summoning and riding the “storm dragons”. Fearing their wrath, people usually ask a Master Stonemason for advice. This Master Stonemason is a former Solomonar himself, who dropped the craft in favor of being again amongst people; his knowledge is highly prized because he knows the secrets of Solomonars. It is said that the children who become “solomonar” are born bearing a particular type of membrane on their head or on the whole of their body. These children were to be selected into apprenticeship by experienced Solomonars, taken into forests or in caves. They would learn the art and craft of wizardry, which they would use to fight against the dark forces of nature and of the human spirit.

Hungary

Hungary - European creature - TurulTurul

He is a symbol of power, strength and nobility. Turul, a giant bird, is usually described as an eagle or a falcon with a sword in it’s talons. He is a divine messenger, and perches on top of the tree of life along with the other spirits of unborn children in the form of birds. In a famous legend, the leader of the Hungarian tribes had a dream in which eagles attacked their horses and a Turul came and saved them. This symbolized that they had to migrate, and when they did so, the Turul helped them to show the way and eventually led them to the land that became Hungary. As such, the Turul is the most important bird in the origin myth of the Hungarian people. It was seen as the ancestor of Atilla, and it was also the symbol of the Huns. He is still used today on the coat of arms of the Hungarian Army, the Counter Terrorism Centre and the Office of National Security.

Slovenia

Slovenia - European creature - ZlatorogZlatorog

For centuries, the barren, rocky peaks of the Alps were seen as exotic and otherworldly by the people of the valleys. It was a domain of hunters of wild animals. Over the centuries, folk tales emerged about the mysterious realm of the clouds, one of the most famous of which is the Slovenian myth of Goldenhorn, or in Slovenian, the Zlatorog. The Goldenhorn is a chamois with horns made of pure gold which had been given special powers by the White Fairies. When a hunter shoots the animal, he doesn’t die. Instead, beautiful flowers grew on the spot where the chamois had bled on the ground. If the Goldenhorn eats the flowers, he regains his strength. For many years, the story was passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth. But, in 1868, a  botanist named Karl Dežman put the story to writing and published it.

Croatia

Croatia - European creature - VedVed

In the region of Bilogora in northern Croatia live distant relatives of the Yeti and Chewbacca, the hairy creature of Star Wars. They are called the vedi (plural form of ved) and look like male human-like creatures as high as a peasant house, completely covered with hair. They are said to be very strong, able to uproot trees and carry heavy loads, while their chest is so large that they can make storms by blowing. When they speak or sing, it can be heard far away. They live deep in the forests of Bilogora, where they build their towns, and are divided into tribes. The good vedi visit people and help them in their every-day work or troubles. In the past, each household had its own ved who was very devoted to it, often to the extent that he did harm to other households and their vedi. Last accounts of vedi visiting people date from the mid 19th century…

Serbia

Serbia - European creature - SmajZmaj

Serbian people make a clear distinction between good and bad dragons. When dragons are called zmaj (змaј), they are considered as extremely intelligent, wise and knowledgeable creature of superhuman strength and proficiency in magic. They are also said to be very rich and usually described as having castles of enormous riches hidden in distant lands. Interesting enough, they are often regarded as being lustful for women, upon whom they are capable of begetting offspring. Zmaj often breath fire and are generally accepted as a highly respected being, and, while not wholly benevolent, never entirely evil either. In Serbia, legends were spread about many historical and mythical heroes that they were conceived by a dragon. Zmaj have not to be confused with Aždaja or aždaha, which are generally considered to be a polar opposite to them in its nature.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia - European creature - Nebeski PijetaoNebeski pijetao

Bosnian mythology  sometimes mentions a large white rooster who lives in the sky. Yes, you read it clearly. But it’s not like any other rooster, no! He is the king of all roosters on earth! And he is a bit like a superheroe. When the Nebeski pijetao, or in English, ‘Sky rooster’, crows at dawn and stomps his leg in the sky, all roosters on earth can hear him and  are crowing back in response. That’s the reason why Bosnian people liked white roosters far more because they believed that they had better hearing than roosters of a different colour. Cockcrows are regarded by many people as something positive since they believe that it chases devils away from the house. In Bosnia it is also believed that a rooster crows every time it sees an angel. Anyway, all this sounds much like another topic of this blog, the way all European roosters crow in their own native language. Wanna read it ? It’s here.

Macedonia

Macedonia - European creature - SamovilaSamovila

Macedonian folklore is very rich of magical and legendary creatures. Among them, Macedonians particularly enjoy the Samovili, who are wild and beautiful nymphs of the waters and the woodlands. They are often presented as pretty girls with golden hair and wings who live far in the mountains, near water or in the clouds. It is believed that they are born from the dew on flowers, when there is rain and the sun is shining or when there is a rainbow. As such, they can fly up to the moon and they know the secrets of the healing herbs. According to the mythology, they serve only those who steal their clothes, and if someone steals their wings they transform into normal women. They are said to dwell upon our earth from spring to autumn, when they sing and dance from dusk till dawn.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria - European creature - IspolinIspolin

In the Bulgarian mythology, Ispolin were refered as the second out of three generations of people to have inhabited the Earth, the big Giants, before modern humans, but after dwarves or little people who were unable to protect themselves from wild animals. Besides their height, Ispolin also possessed supernatural powers. Their voices were thought so powerful that they were able to communicate between each other even when they were standing on far-away mountain tops. Ispolin lived in caves and were carnivorous, feeding exclusively on raw meat. They were regarded as a natural enemy of dragons and would often engage them in battle. Bulgarian legends claim that the most dangerous object for an Ispolin was the blackberry bush. Due to their height and sluggishness, Ispolin were unable to spot or avoid blackberry bushes, so they would trip, get caught in the thorns and perish…

Albania – Kosovo

Albania - European creature - Zana e malitZana e malit

In Northern Albania and Kosovo every mountain was said to have its own zana, who appeared as a fair maiden found bathing naked in mountain streams. Her name actually means “fairy of the mountain” in English. The zana is believed to be extremely courageous, a formidable opponent, who can bestow her protection on warriors. She is believed to have the power to petrify opponents with a glance. Albanians even have an expression Ai ishte trim si zana, meaning, “He was as brave as a fairy”, this is used to refer to very courageous individuals. The zana appear in many folktales and in the Albanian oral tradition. They are comparable with the Valkyries of the Nordic mythology, and other branches of Balkan and European folkore like that of the Romanian zina and southern Slav Vila.

Greece – Cyprus

Greece - European creature - PegasusPegasus

We could write pages and pages on Greek mythological creatures, but we had to choose one, and it came upon the famous Pegasus, one of the best known creatures in Greek mythology. As you may already know, Pegasus is a winged divine stallion usually depicted as pure white in color and was sired by Poseidon, in his role as horse-god. His father was Poseidon and his mother was the Gorgon Medusa; he was born along with his brother Chrysaor when Medusa was decapitated by Perseus. Pegasus allows the hero to ride him to defeat a monster, the Chimera, before realizing many other exploits. According to legend, everywhere the winged horse struck his hoof to the earth, an inspiring spring burst forth. His rider, however, once fell off his back trying to reach Mount Olympus. Zeus transformed the creature into the constellation Pegasus and placed him up in the sky.

Turkey

Turkey - European creature - BichuraBichura

Here comes a quite convenient creature for your house. Traditionally, every house in Turkey is said to have a Bichura. The actions performed by this house spirit in Turkic folklore vaguely resemble those of poltergeists and are not necessarily harmful. The Bichura would pull hair to warn a woman of danger from an abusive man. He would moan and howl to warn of coming trouble. Tatar folklore says that a Bichura could  steal the grain of a neighbour to feed his own horses. If Bichura becomes unhappy, it plays nasty tricks on the members of the household. Those include moving and rattling small objects, breaking dishes, leaving muddy little footprints… If the family can determine the cause of their Bichuras discontent, they can rectify the situation and return things to normal. And the most funny thing about the Bichura : it wears red dresses!

 

 

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