Nordic lullaby vibes, pretty much.
Who doesn’t have fond memories of lullabies? Lullabies symbolize the peaceful, innocent pinnacles of childhood— when your mum used to hum them to you at night after treating you to a nice mug of hot coca and a backrub. Lullabies harken back to a simpler time in your life, when songs about choo-choo trains and friendly moons somehow made perfect sense in your head. However, that’s just a limited slice of the subject matter covered in lullabies from all over the world. Things can get a LOT weirder than that—especially in Northern Europe.
To satisfy our curiosity, we decided to sift through some classic bedtime tunes coming out of countries like Denmark, Norway and Iceland. What we found are lullabies that are very loved—and very, very messed up. The topics run the gamut from prevy men to dead kids to hacked up animals… and that’s just the beginning. To show you what we mean, here’s our list of the creepiest, most messed-up lullabies we could find in Northern Europe.
Finland: "Sininen Uni"
“Sininen Uni” translates to “The Blue Dream”. This classic song is about a Sandman who comes to visit children every night. Simple enough, you’d think, but the creepy factor already begins in the third and fourth lines of the lullaby. For this Sandman doesn't just magically appear: he actually breaks into the poor child's home and then proceeds to tiptoe around in blue slippers, “creep in” and jump behind the closet. Like, what kind of person would enter a child’s home at night, go to extensive lengths to do so on the DL and actually hide behind a closet? A person with suspicious intentions, that’s who. He's also eating “sleepy ice cream with small teeth”—and don't we all know that ice cream is a sure-fire way to lure innocent children into your clutches? The storyline then progresses to the sandman ACTUALLY TAKING THE CHILDREN WITH HIS CAR to some place called “the blue dreamland”, and you can just imagine how that conversation went (“c’mon, kids! I’ve got golden woods, trees, blue birds! After we check those out, we can all go cuddle in my very big bed and drink the kinds of drinks your mom tells you you’re never allowed to put in your mouth!!!”). Basically, this guy is kidnapping children while convincing them they're going to a magical little haven full of golden woods. We don’t want to know what’s actually in that blue dreamland, but we’re pretty sure it's a metaphor for something a little less enjoyable.
Iceland: "Móðir mín í kví kví"
“Móðir mín í kví kví” translates to “My mother in the pen, pen”. The actual lyrics to the lullaby seem harmless: they sound like a child singing to his mother, telling her not to be sad ‘cause he’ll give her his old clothes so she can dance. However, all is not that innocent—for the lullaby comes accompanied by a gnarly backstory. The tale goes that a young lass living on a farm got knocked up. Once she gave birth, she chucked the child out into the wilderness so it could snuff it, ‘cause YOLO, right? Then this chick got invited to a dance party but, being a girl and all, she had a full on freak-out being all like, ‘OMG I have nothing to wear, all my clothes are hideous, I CAN’T GO TO THE PARTY AT ALL WAAAAAAH’. In her distress, she went to milk some cows or whatever in the field and that’s when she heard her dead kid crooning this lullaby to her—offering his castoff rags so she could go twerk and do tequila shots. Naturally, she didn’t go twerk and do tequila shots but went fully insane for the rest of her life. Cute story, kids.
*Editor's Note: This is easily the creepiest animation for a lullaby we've seen pretty much ever. Well done, Norway.
“Kråkevisa” translates to “The Crow Song”. This song is about a guy who goes to the forest to grab some timber to make the old lady happy, but he sees a crow and somehow decides the crow is out to kill him. Freaked out, he goes home and his wife is NOT happy. She's all like, "What a surprise, Olaf. I don’t ask you for a lot you know, Olaf. Just this one time - ONE TIME - I ask you to go get me some timber. And what do you do, Olaf? Do you go get timber? Noooooo, of course not. Nooooooo, because OF COURSE a crow threatened to kill you. Of course, Olaf, OF COURSE." So naturally, when the crow actually comes to this guy’s house, he has a bit of a MY MARRIAGE IS TERRIBLE SCREW YOU CROW breakdown and shoots the little fucker down. He then goes on to sadistically skin the crow and cut her up in tiny little pieces. And boy, oh boy, does he have fun with THAT. He manages to ration one crow - JUST ONE - into the following:
- twelve pairs of shoes
- cured meat
- a grain-grinder
- a church-boat
- a trumpet
- miscellaneous church décor
Talk about efficiency! And unnecessary violence against animals!
Denmark: “Mues sang få Hansemand”
*Editor's Note: This is basically a sugar-coated North American version of the Danish lullaby. Still weird, still existential AF.
This ancient Danish lullaby (it's so old we don't know what year it was written in, and it was written in old Jutland dialect) is about a mother singing a song to prepare her little boy named Hans for the harsh realities of life. To be fair, this lullaby isn’t creepy per se—but it’s definitely full of existential dread and darkness. The mum is exhausted after slaving away all day to feed this little kid; he won’t shut up and stop crying pretty much ever; the mum doesn’t feel like she’s good enough for the kid; the mum worries about who’s going to take care of Hans when he grows up. Like, isn’t this the human curse of reproduction she’s going on about? Having kids is pretty much like signing up for a lifetime of giving up every little shrivel of energy to make sure the thing that came out of your womb eats, sleeps, shits and maybe becomes one of those people who always brings the right kind of wine to a dinner party. Sing this lullaby to your kid and you won’t calm them down—you’ll just let them know that life is a rewardless, grim exercise in testing your own strength and perseverance.
Sweden: "En rallare, en rallare, på Roslagsgatan gick"
*Editor's Note: Here's some sheet music so you can play this and terrify children.
The title of this cute little number translates to “A Hobo Was Walking Down Roslags Street”. Like, there’s nothing wrong with a hobo doin’ his thing, just strollin’ down some random street minding his own business, especially when he’s on his way to meet his “darling little wife”. BUT. (And this is a big one). BUT! Apparently, fate isn’t on this hobo’s side. It's not enough that this dude’s a) a hobo and b) not exactly a looker with “big ears” and a nose that’s a “dollop”. No, no: as he’s on his way to meet bae, this gorgeous rich dude with beautiful curly hair’s all like, “HEY HOBO, DO YOU WANNA FIGHT OR WHAT?!?!” and then just whams him in the head. Like, no remorse, totally coming out of nowhere... BOOM. Rich dude yells something along the lines of 'that'll teach you to sass me, hobo" and then sends the miserable dude on his way. Understandably, the poor hobo’s feeling a little messed up and shaken… so boy, oh boy, is he happy when he finds a bit of tobacco on the ground! Sweeeeet! Free tobacco! Of course, the tobacco isn’t tobacco after all: it’s DYNAMITE. So not only is this hobo homeless, ugly, beaten up and out of it—he also gets blown up when he tries stuff his discovery in his pipe and lights it. To add insult to injury, the pipe survives. The hobo doesn’t, though.