Magical Winter Creatures In Finnish Mythology


Pakkanen/pakkaspoika (the freeze / freeze boy). He is a similar character to Jack the frost in Anglo-Saxon stories of the nature spirit who freezes the grass and leaves in winter. These stories can be traced to Norse and Germanic myths about giants. In the Finnish folktales, Pakkaspoika is a young boy who makes peoples fingers and toes cold in winter and he freezes the land in the late autumn.


Marras and martaa are old Finnish names for the spirit of the dead. Origins of the Finnish word is in the Indoiranian word marla and the Latin word mors which both mean death. The word marla was used in ancient Finland back in the day especially in the area of Karelia. Marras and martaa can mean death, a dead person or an omen of death.

Back in the day a strange event that led to death could have been considered as marras. For example, if a person experienced a very lucky event. They inherited a huge amount of money or they managed to catch lots of fish and they died suddenly after that in an accident or into a disease. The healthier person was more likely they would die to marras. Marras was not invented to scare people. It was more likely a warning of the things that could happen. A reminder for people to enjoy life to the fullest.


​Halla was the first sign of the approaching winter. Word Halla is still used in modern Finnish and it refers to the end of growth in nature and the arrival of the first snow and cold nights. Back in the days, Halla was a nature spirit who walked on earth turning everything to frost. Halla was a creator of Alinen (underworld) the underworld because it existed to harm people. It froze berries, crops and plants. Peoples hands and noses. During the summer Halla stayed in the pleasant coolness of the underworld.

Halla was described to look like a ghost. It had pale skin and it walked during the night creating ice-cold weather. It liked to stay in the wide landscape, in the fields and marshes. Halla was a mostly harmless creature and the best way to protect oneself from it was to dress up warmly.

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Niina's Fairychamber

Niina's Fairychamber

Illustrator, writer and a folklorist. Likes cats, tea and period dramas. Currently writing a book about Finnish mythology. A host of the Little Women Podcast.