February 23, 2017

Mr. Sandman

(This post originally appeared on my former blog, A Face to the
Sun, on January 15, 2012.)
Did you ever hear the story about  the Sandman who visits children on New Year’s Eve?

 Several months ago, when my aunts and uncles were together reminiscing over lunch, some of them remembered my Grandmother Elling dressing with a black hood over her head and chasing her children on New Year’s Eve night, saying that the Sandman was coming to get them!  It was all done in good humor, of course. 

I had never heard of that German custom and so I asked friend, Kerstin, from Germany,
what she knew about it.  She did not know that the custom was attached to any particular day, but she did remember the old fable about the Sandman coming to visit children to throw
dust in their eyes to make them sleepy.  Later, I read that some parents then gave that as the reason for the crusty matter that might be in the children’s eyes when they awoke.  Oh, the Sandman must have visited!
However, a more vicious, old German fable, written by E.A. Hoffman, exists where the Sandman is very evil.  When he comes to visit children in the night, he snatches their eyeballs and takes those back to feed his children.  Now that was a scary thing to tell a child!

The whole Sandman story actually shows itself throughout history and many cultures.  I especially like this Danish version by Hans Christian Anderson. 

But, really, when I hear the word “Sandman,” this is what I think of…


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