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Wee Folk

Around The World in Dimintuative form

Wee Folk, leprechauns, elves, Menehune, are some of the names used for the small magical, imaginary beings that are sometimes helpful and sometimes mischievous. There are those who say they are part of the Fairie folk and are as real as me and you. Maybe. Many cultures have the same stories about magical wee folk who are sometimes helpful and sometimes pranksters. They are called by different names.

Leprechaun
Jean-noël Lafargue

Leprechaun

Wee folk of Irish legend and perhaps the most well known. They are depicted as being very dapper in their coat and hat. Most folks think of the as being mischievous. Some see them as shoemakers and hiding pots of gold at the end of rainbows. The poet and mythologist Willam Butler Yeats wrote that Leprechauns were solitary wee folk who gained their wealth from “treasure-crocks, buried of old in war-time”.

Menehune

Painting of Menehune D. Howard Hitchcock 1933

Menehune are the wee folk of Hawaiian legend. Menehune live in the forests and are great craftsmen. They build temples, roads, fish ponds, canoes, and many other things. The wee folk only come out at night to build. Menehune are said to play tricks such as hiding your car keys in the couch cushions. Only children and special people can actually see the Menehune.

Hobgoblin Artist Unknown

Hobgoblins

This wee folk is of English origin and were once considered helpful household creatures. A hob is a metal shelf in a fireplace that was meant to hold pots and pans. So a Hobgoblin was a creature or spirit who lived on that shelf. They enjoyed doing small tasks around the house as the family slept. Hobgoblins would sweep, dust, sew buttons, darn your socks and were only compensated in food.

Haltija

Haltija Artist Unknown

In Finnish mythology, a Haltija is one of the wee folk who protects, guards, or helps someone. There are many types of Haltija. There are water, forest, cemetery, house Haltijat to name a few. Of all them protect where they live and it is important to respect them. Not sure what happens when you don’t.

“Brownies and Other Tales”, by Juliana Horatia Ewing,
illustrated by Alice B Woodward,
published by G. Bell & Sons, London, 1920.

Brownie

A brownie is another household wee folk from Scotland. They perform their chores and tasks while the owners of the house are asleep. One must leave a bowl of milk or cream or some other offering for the Brownie. These wee folk are easily offended and will leave their homes forever if they feel they have been insulted. If angered, they are sometimes mean.

Gremlin

Unknown Author
Office for Emergency Management.
War Production Board.
(01/1942 – 11/03/1945)

Gremlins from the USA are mischievous pesky things. Gremlins really started being seen around WW II., They are responsible for mechanical and electrical failures of all kinds, especially with aircraft. Airmen would claim that the gremlins had sabotaged their planes.

Image by Marc Potts

Coblyn

These Welsh wee folks live in the mines. they are said to knock on the wall to warn miners of imminent cave-ins. There are some, though, who think the knocking of the Coblyn caused those cave-ins. Some even think that the Coblyns are just well-meaning, but can be dangerous Most think they are helpful and will leave food out for them

Wee Folk Are Much Like Large Folk

Many other wee folks, all with different names. Recurring throughout the story of the wee folks is the idea that they are usually very skilled. They build, they clean, they do household chores, they protect, and do many other tasks to help people. They can also be very resentful and mischievous. The resentful, mean side of them is shown when they have been mistreated and disrespected. Much like us big folk. Very much like us.