Mystery of the Sturbridge Keys

Mystery of the Sturbridge Keys

by Linda Hourihan


Publisher iUniverse

Published in Children's Books/Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery & Horror, Literature & Fiction, Children's Books

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Book Description


Dramatic Time Travel, historical/fiction/fantasy to discover the history of Christmas, Santa Claus, and how Noah's sons repopulate the empires.

Sample Chapter

"Ho, Ho, Ho," Santa Claus beckons to a very excited Greg, who is dashing in to Bullard's Tavern faster than the legs of his cousin and mother can take them.

"Wo, Wo, Wo, young fella. You have snow on your shoes. The floor in here is wet and slippery. We don't want you to fall and get hurt," Santa says, as Greg comes up to Santa with a sliding halt.

Greg runs his hands over Santa's soft white fur on his outfit. Abe and Sarah join him as others fill in the room. The scent of chestnuts roasting over the fireplace welcomes everyone to what is sure to be one of the most enjoyable programs of the night, at least in Greg's eyes. Everyone is seated along benches spread throughout the room.

"There are many stories about me out there in the world today. Some have even confused me with other people. I will tell them to you to see what you think." Santa Claus winks as he takes some roasted chestnuts out of the fire, and places them on the table in the center of the room to cool.

"When these are cool enough, help yourself to them. Parents, please make sure you test them first, as they stay hot for a while after taking them off the fire."

The parents nod.

"I will start with the oldest stories first. Then I will tell you the famous stories of St. Nicholas, who was a real bishop in the third century. He attended the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 A.D. I will share with you how some of the people living in Sturbridge Village celebrated, for those celebrating Christmas here in 1830. But not all of them did. Even Abraham Lincoln gets in on the act. Are you ready?" Santa asks the awaiting crowd.

Cheers and applause erupt from his crowd of all ages.

"OK then." Santa takes a deep breath and begins.

"Once upon a time, in the land to the north called Valhalla, there was a Norse mythological god named Odin with a long, white beard." Santa begins the tale while stroking his own long, white beard.

"Some know him as Wodin. He would fly through the night sky during the winter solstice, right around now. Be on the lookout for his eight-legged white horse named Slepnir. During his flight, Odin would reward the good children and punish the naughty ones. Has anyone here been naughty?" Santa asks the children with one bushy eyebrow raised.

"No!" the room full of children squeals, with the most innocent eyes any parent has ever seen.

"What a relief," Santa says demonstratively wiping his brow.

"Next we have a story of the Norse god, Thor. Are you ready for another story?" Santa asks assessing his young audience.

Again thunderous applause breaks out.

"The Norse people made up their own gods and goddesses just like all the other cultures. Now, Thor was a god of the peasants and the common people. Norse mythology represents him as a very jovial and friendly, elderly man with a rolly-polly belly. Remind you of anyone?" Santa expressively raises both eyebrows and turns to give the room his round belly profile.

Contagious giggles spread throughout the room. Even Santa laughs.

Thor's element was fire, and his color was red. Because of this, fireplaces in every home were sacred to him. Don't forget, these myths began in Iceland, where it is very, very cold. Of course Thor liked fireplaces."

Lots of little heads are nodding.

"Now this is the part you might like to know. It was said that Thor would come down the chimney through his element, which is what?" Santa asks.

"Fire!" Greg and his counterparts yell out.

"Correct," Santa says. "Thor was known to drive a chariot drawn by what?" Santa asks.

"Reindeer!" the excited little blond girl answers.

"No," Santa corrects.

"In this story, Thor rides in a chariot pulled by two white goats named Cracker and Gnashed. Thor successfully fights ice and snow giants, so he becomes known as the Yule-god. And of course he lives in his palace in the Northland among the icebergs. BRRR," Santa says crossing his arms and shivering for effect.

"BRRR," the children mimic him.

"Are you ready for another story?" Santa asks his very excitable guests.

"More, more!" they shout.

"And now, for our next legend, we will discuss my many names over the centuries like St. Nicholas, Sinterklass, Santeclaus, and Christine. Also, did you know that in many counties, like Germany, I had a companion who helped me?" Santa asks.

"Elves?" Abe asks.

Santa shakes his head. "Not exactly, more like a weird, mysterious sidekick that people know by many such names as Knecht Ruprecht and Black Peter. In the Middle Ages, Knecht Ruprecht appeared along with St. Nicholas. But while St. Nicholas was known to give presents like bags of candy, chocolate, gingerbread, peanuts and mandarin oranges, to the children whose behavior was good on St Nicholas Day, which was on December 6; Knecht Ruprecht would give switches and coal to children whose behavior was bad. Knecht Ruprecht ore either a brown or black robe, or fur. He also had a long white beard, and carried a bag of ashes. Like St. Nicholas, he also rode a white horse.

Folklore with Black Peter, because of the soot that covered him from sliding down chimneys. Black Peter was a lot like the mythical house spirits and elves who were known to punish the misdeeds of children." Santa eyes his young listeners.

"Why?" one young voice asks so quickly that no one knows who spoke.

"This story circulated so parents could maintain order in their homes and in society. These little dark, impish characters were also known as Pelznickle, Ru-Klas, Swarthy One, Dark Helper, Hans Trapp, Krampus, Gramps, Zwarte Pitts, Furry Nicholas, Rough Nicholas, and Julebuk." Santa pops a roasted chestnut into his mouth and chews.

"He is also known as demon, evil one, the devil and Satan. That's what has the people of Sturbridge Village upset in 130. Why would they want to celebrate anything with the devil?"


Excerpted from "Mystery of the Sturbridge Keys" by Linda Hourihan. Copyright © 2016 by Linda Hourihan. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Linda Hourihan

Linda Hourihan

Linda Hourihan is an international Holistic Health Counselor/Practitioner, former feature writer for The Milford Daily News, and Laconia Daily Sun, author of The Virtue of Virtues, former owner of The Massage Clinic with over 8,000 appointments to her clinic. She lives with her author husband, John T. Hourihan, Jr., and lives among the beautiful lakes and forests of Massachusetts.

View full Profile of Linda Hourihan

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