Postcrossing Blog

Stories about the Postcrossing community and the postal world

Blog > December Writing Prompt: Mythological creatures from your country

  icon

The writing prompts invite postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcards’ messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!

This month’s theme is mythological creatures, and anyone who’s been following along with my writing prompt posts can probably have a good guess at where my first thoughts went, being Welsh: dragons! What mythological creatures leap to mind for you?

In December, write about a famous mythological creature from your culture.

I said dragons were the first creatures to leap to mind (there’s a dragon on the Welsh flag, after all), and they’re deep at the root of some of my favourite myths and legends. (For example, the origin story of Merlin, in Arthurian legends, involves two dragons fighting under the foundations of a castle and causing it to fall down repeatedly.) That said, we’re nearing the Christmas season, and I have another sort of creature in mind: the Mari Lwyd.

A Mari Lwyd made of a horse's skull, seeming to laugh at the viewer

Strictly speaking, the Mari Lwyd isn’t really a mythological creature. Traditionally, a Mari Lwyd is a horse’s skull mounted onto a stick and carried round by a person hidden beneath a cloth. It’d be carried around the village or town by a group, who would knock on doors and demand entry, with the Mari causing havoc by snapping its jaws and making a mischief of itself. It was basically an excuse for a party, with lots of food and drink and horsing around. My first meeting with a Mari Lwyd wasn’t like that, though: I read about it in a fantasy novel, Susan Cooper’s Silver on the Tree, where it’s a living creature of sorts, and chases two of the protagonists. It’s a genuinely tense and creepy scene, and part of a book I really love, so perhaps it’s no surprise the Mari Lwyd is deep in my imagination!

A Mari Lwyd made of a horse's skull, with a caption saying if you're cold, they're cold, let the Mari Lwyd in

Of late, I’ve noticed a lot of people in the wider world talking about Mari Lwyd traditions online, sometimes adding their own flourishes (which is fine, as far as I’m concerned—I’m sure the Mari has caused mischief in many ways over the years). Every year, someone sends me some variant of the image I’ve included with this post: “If you’re cold, they’re cold. Let the Mari Lwyd in.” (I’ve received my first one this year, in November! Like mince pies going on sale, the Mari Lwyd seems to begin earlier every year…) The actual history of the tradition is mixed and confusing, but you can read more about it on Wikipedia if you’re interested in the ins and outs.

So this month, let’s hear about your mythological creatures! Are they creepy or friendly? How seriously are they taken? Are there any interesting traditions about them? You can answer in the comments on this post, or write about them in the postcards you send this month. Or both!

40 comments so far

jjmedusa, United States of America

There is a yearly beer festival where I live called Snallygaster. When I looked up this word, I found out (from Wikipedia) that it means: "The snallygaster was described as half-reptile, half-bird having a metallic beak lined with razor-sharp teeth, occasionally alongside octopus-like tentacles." Apparently it is a part of American folklore and I had no idea!

on
onlyme, United States of America

In the southern part of Mississippi USA., there have been numerous sightings of a large half man - half ape creature throughout the decades. He is called the Chatawa Monster. Legend states that the monster escaped from a circus train and wanders the wooded, swamp areas surrounding the town of Chatawa.

on
Ajaesimpkins, United States of America

I have a “know your cryptids” shirt from the US. I got it because I just love Mothman lore but learned more. The tales of the Fresno nightcrawler crack me up!

on
Aguaroble, France

Reminds me of the Europa theme of 2022! That was very nice!

on
CStar9, United States of America

Fun. This reminds me of this awesome set of postcards of legendary creatures at US National Parks, by Anderson Design Group - one of my favorite sets ever! https://www.andersondesigngroupstore.com/a/collections/legends-of-the-national-parks

on
FoxLilly12, United States of America

Yes, where I live we are famous for bigfoot, but we also have a very friendly sea serpent named Claude who likes to live in our rivers and ocean.

on
TheWonderOfYou, Chile

omggggg I love this topic
I'm from Chile and my country has many stories about mythological creatures.
Since Chile is a long country, we have a large variety of stories.

on
kaila123, United States of America

this should be fun, there are alot of mythical creatures it seems!

on
SonOfBilly, New Zealand

In Māori mythology, taniwha are large supernatural beings that live in deep pools in rivers, dark caves, or in the sea, especially in places with dangerous currents or deceptive breakers.

on
jrowley, United States of America

Interesting topic since we are only a few short months away from the Lunar Year of the Dragon.
Jo-Anne Rowley

on
Facella, Austria

Two things come to mind immediately.
First, the Wolpertinger, a mythological animal. It has the body of a rabbit, the antlers of a deer, the fangs of a predator and the wings of a duck. Very shy and reclusive.

Second, the Lindwurm. It's a kind of dragon but with very short or no wings. Sometimes it eats humans. It's also the patron animal of Klagenfurt as well as Ljubljana, so Austria and Slovenia share some very similar myths.

on
PAGE57, United States of America

In Arizona we have the dreaded Jack-a-lope, a jackrabbit with antelope horns on his head. The myth, stories, are all over the place depending on what you believe. Google this, it truly does make for great reading.

on
Bowyum, Australia

Here in Australia we have the Rainbow Serpent, part of Aboriginal creation myth. A water monster , most commonly known as the Bunyip is also part of Aboriginal belief. And we have our own "Bigfoot", known as the Yowie.

on
Miguel_dlCC, Spain

Give me a touch, if anybody of you are interested in a direct swap to write about mythology/mythological creatures of our respective countries. :D

on
sutan, Indonesia

In Indonesia, mythological creatures could be related to the early ages of Indonesian history as the symbol of my country is basically a mythological creature, Garuda bird.

on
csikesza, Hungary

The figure of the griffin has already appeared in several folk tales, it is the protective creature of the Hungarian folklore, but it also appears in other cultures. It is a huge bird of prey, which is more like a mixture of a bird and a lion. He lives on a mountaintop and the dragon is his enemy, but if someone protects his young from the dragon, he will earn the bird's gratitude

on
Catlin, Germany

Yes, thank you so much for starting this topic in a world greatest platform for exchangig just this theme, is a treasure- I would like to mention the variety of this tiny little figures, most of them topic on the old stories, as known as fairy tale figures. Smart and funny, eager to be helpfull at this time of the year are the Christmas loving fairies, who adore to serve but being very stubborn, they have to be convinced profound, to make your wish come true. They do help, but not always as needed by creating funny coincidental situations or, so take care, also mad accidents as a result of their interferring. So take care what you wish for on Christmas!
Merry postcrossing to everyone from Catlin, Europe, Earth.

on
AbbyDiamond, United States of America

South of where I live is a Bigfoot trap. On the humorous side is the Beavcoon, created on the series, "iCarly"

on
Gelly-VS, Switzerland

I really like crypto zoology, and the creatures of the Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, Beijing Man and other Migou style are certainly still to be discovered.

on
KeepItReal, Germany

When people talk about devil worship and witches' rides, they are usually referring to Walpurgis Night in the Harz Mountains.
Walpurgis is a traditional European festival whose origins date back to pre-Christian times.On the last night of April, the dark forces celebrate a festival with their witches According to legend, the witches fly to Mount Brocken on broomsticks.

on
Mokidale, Italy

Hello everyone,
In Italy there is a special mythological figure at Christmas time: La Befana.
I leave you with an excerpt from a famous poem that is told to children:

La Befana vien di notte
Con le scarpe tutte rotte
Col vestito alla romana
Viva, Viva La Befana!

The English translation is:

The Befana comes by night
With her shoes all tattered and torn
She comes dressed in the Roman way
Long live the Befana!
Here is the wiki link about it:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Befana
Byeee

on
Pixie_, Switzerland

The Alpine males are small, friendly creatures that are said to live in the Swiss Alps. They are often portrayed as helpful creatures who help farmers with their work.

on
memo_baghdad, Iraq

I'm very into mythology and mythological creatures; Arabia has a lot and many were depicted in literature since the dawn of civilizations, aside from Mesopotamia which has a plethora of mythical good and bad entities/creatures, in Iraq and in general in the Arabian Peninsula the one who will stand out is Jinn. please read the below link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Arabian_legendary_creatures

on
Sylvia_Tamie, Brazil

There are so many mythological creatures in Brazil, I wouldn't know where to begin: some are native myths, like the Curupira, protector of the forests; some were brought by colonizers, like the Cuca, a dragon that takes away children that don't go to bed on time; and others came later.

on
Inspiranta, Ukraine

Mavkas are the mythological creatures which protect the forest from evil.
By the way, have you already watched the cartoon premiere this year?
"Mavka. The Forest Song" is a beautiful animated cartoon based on the play by a great Ukrainian poet Lesya Ukrainka
Here's the trailer:
https://youtu.be/GXaMT5pX12w?si=5av6r8V8-y_vpHiH
Enjoy a Ukrainian-language variant of the song from this cartoon:
https://youtu.be/f6Xe03x7Ers?si=sS1nZA-1sY5arz_H

on
Cece-R, United States of America

We have many mines in Colorado, and there are stories of Tommyknockers that inhabit them. Knocking sounds can be warnings for miners to get out of the mines before disasters. We also have stories of Bigfoot and trolls.

on
Flippie, Canada

I live on Vancouver Island, West coast of Canada and we have a lake called Thetis lake and it housed a monster. His name is " Canadian Lizard-man". It is a shout-man with silvery-blue scales and barbed fins down his back.
I never saw him......

on
doryfera, Canada

There are also 2 sea serpents here in British Columbia that I know of. In the ocean off my town (Victoria) there is one called Cadborosaurus, while in Okanagan Lake on the mainland there is said to be a fresh-water lake monster called Ogopogo. Both are in Wikipedia :) Sadly, I haven't seen either of them yet, despite looking!

And speaking of cryptids, we also have Bigfoot up here, too. Also known as Sasquatch (that name comes from B.C.'s Sts'ailes Nation). I haven't seen it, either, but I do have a friend who swears he heard Sasquatch screaming in the distance when he was hiking in the wilderness.

on
manencov, Romania

THE DRAGON is THE ROMANIAN MYTHOLOGICAL MONSTER
The dragon is an opponent of Fat-Handsome. It has reptilian form, several heads and represents evil in its purest form. The source of this mythological creature on Romanian territory is even the legacy of Saint George, depicted on horseback, imposing the dragon with a spear, although there are much older stories that refer to the fight between the hero (be he god or demigod) and a creature with reptile or snake characteristics: Marduk against Tiamat (Babylonians), Apollo against Python, Zeus against Typhon, Belerophone vs. Chimera, Heracles vs. Hydra (Ancient Greece), Ra vs. Apophis (Egypt), Siegfried vs. Fafnir (Ring of the Nibelung), Thor vs. Jormungandr (Ragnarok). This archetype of the battle of good versus evil has also been exploited in more recent Christian legends, such as Elijah's struggle against Satan, or in modern novels, such as The Silmarillion (J. R. R. Tolkien) in which Turin Turambar defeats Glaurung.

.https://limbaromana.org/revista/mitul-eroului-care-omoara-balaurul-in-balada-romaneasca-iovan-iorgovan/

https://www.mixdecultura.ro/2019/03/balaurii-din-mitologia-romaneasca/

-

on
KWDibble1, United States of America

Here in the U.S. we have Bigfoot of course, also commonly referred to as Sasquatch. Bigfoot is a large and hairy human-like creature that inhabits forests in North America. In Native American folklore there is also Wendigo, a mythical creature or an evil or malevolent spirit that invokes feelings of greed, huger or desire in the humans it possesses.

on
Xuening, United Kingdom

In ancient Chinese mythology, there are many legends about dragons, such as:
The dragon has nine strange sons.
Another mysterious creature that appears paired with the dragon is the phoenix.
There are four dragon kings living under the sea.
Dragons and Chinese emperors are inextricably linked.
There are many idiom stories about dragons...
If you are interested in these contents, we can send postcards to each other! I will tell you with pictures and texts as much as possible...

on
AnnJewel_Chyi, China

In ancient Chinese mythology and legend, the Four Holy Creatures for luck are the Azure Dragon, Vermilion Bird, White Tiger, and Black Tortoise.

on
reneg78, United States of America

This is one request I ask of fellow postcrossers to write me about from their country. I love mythical creatures and folk ledgends. and I've learned of alot of them from other countries.

on
Demmi, Romania

Great topic for this Magic Season!
Please enjoy the reading from the link below: https://theincrediblylongjourney.com/2015/04/02/romanian-myths-monsters-and-heroes/

- and here is another about: "CHRISTMAS TALES AROUND THE WORLD"
https://theincrediblylongjourney.com/2016/01/03/christmas-tales/#more-7814

on
kissthebeehive, United States of America

The writing prompt I'd been hoping for! Such an interesting concept how many similar creatures exist throughout the world albeit slightly different depending upon region. Take Bigfoot / Sasquatch / Yeti / Abominable Snowman, for instance! I have a self-printed card I've been sending to folks for a few years now that seems to be a favorite (browse my sent cards) and would love to send it to anyone who would like it!

Excellent topic and article shanaqui, and great comments by all!

on
beesknees, United States of America

In Scotland we have the Kelpies - malevolent spirits that lure you into the water- they are shape changing but usually in the shape of a horse - good news - if you can get a hold of the bridle you will be able to harness their power! In Falkirk Scotland there is the largest equine sculpture in the world - they are truly magnificent to see - I would highly recommend a visit. Look up "Kelpies, Falkirk"

on
camillobe, Germany

the topic is a very interesting one, but can ghosts be considered mythological creatures too? my culture is filled with interesting types of ghosts.

on
Knitchic54, Australia

Have loved all these myths and have looked them all up on the various links. Thanks for sharing. We have the Bunyip, Otways Panther, Hawksbury River Monster, Rainbow Serpent as someone has already commented; Yara-ma-yha-who from Aboriginal legends and Yowie.

on
dutchgranny, Netherlands

yes!
we like folklegends & myths about mythological creatures
very much !
since years I try to gather information about european decembretraditions like: krampus & the "perchten" in austria, cert, nikolas and andel in czech, la befana in italy, ruprecht in germany etc. -
so if yóú have perhaps an illustration - /picturecard about them
or articles in magazines ....
+ also when you have a card or stamps about a mythologicalfigure
out of yóúr country ... we are móre than interested !
and love to learn more about them :-)
in the netherlands I did not hear anything since years from and about our "kabouters" ... perhaps our forests are not healthy and they do not live here anymore -
but I still know how they look like
and how to dráw them at a card if you like ....

on
omurk, Türkiye

There is a legendary creature called Sahmaran in Anatolia. Sahmaran's upper part of the body is a very beautiful female body while the lower part is a snake. She is the sultan of the snakes living in an underground cave with snakes. This legend is also common in Iran. It is thought that its roots come from a legend of the Hittite (an ancient Anatolian kingdom) State.

on

Back to top