Saturday 26 December 2009

Dec. 26 Alyce Gwyldfire

Today is my birthday and it was with great excitement I rose early. I knew that last night was the night that Alyce Gwyldfire (AKA Alice Wildfire) was coming. Brian, my husband, was teasing me by tapping on the wooden headboard imitating the sound of muskox on the roof. He warned me that I had to get to sleep or Alyce would not come. I was too excited to sleep. Even up here in Muskoka, we know that she will be here, despite rain, snow, sleet and hail (all delivered - often in one day - by Mother Nature - but that was one week's story).

Ms. Gwyldfire is the magical matron who brings presents to birthday boys and girls. Santa only works once a year and he has special powers that facilitate his work. Our Alyce rides on a covered wagon drawn by a set of 12 musk ox, the same number as the tribes of Israel. It is the best vehicle for her because she travels all over the world and, not possessing the special powers of Santa (being a regular mortal), she needs protection from the elements. Here we have photos of the team, plus the reserve ox for (Heaven forbid) accidents and emergencies.

Of course, Ms. Gwyldfire has so many birthdays to manage that she cannot possibly deliver presents to all. She has helpers – hordes of laid-off Welsh Coal Miners, no one really knows how many. The Welsh coal miners have two attributes: they are hard workers and, boy, can they sing Happy Birthday! Prince Charles is one of the official patrons: he is the Prince of Wales, you know.

We believe the tradition started in 4th century France by Alyce’s ancestor: Angylina Sauvage de Feu. By 1000 CE the descendants of Angylina had spread the tradition throughout Europe and much of Eurasia. However, it wasn’t until the 14th century CE that her descendants, named somewhat like Charlemagne’s: Philomena the Plump, Charlotte the Chaste, and Wilhelmina the Wonky (whose later descendant made a small fortune in chocolate factories), had firmly established the tradition.

By the late 1700s, the tradition had arrived in North, Central, and South America, with the French, English and Spanish conquerors. They spread the concepts of one religion, all land for Europeans and birthday surprises. However, it was not until the early 1900s that a direct descendant of Angylina, named Alyce, immigrated to North America where the unilingual authorities promptly renamed her Alice Wildfire. For 50 years the headquarters of this now worldwide operation was located roughly inside Connecticut, with much administration in Massachusetts.

Location of WalesUnfortunately, in the 1950s the current CEO, Alice the 65th, was accused by the McCarthy Commission of being a Communist subversive, as she was distributing goods without profit. Forced to flee the United States, she relocated in Wales as the Welsh Authorities not only welcomed her Socialist leanings, but also gave her tax incentives. Originally, her workforce was drawn from several parts of the United Kingdom, however, with the failure of the British Coal Mining Industry, virtually all of the labour force became Welsh Miners.

Over time, as is the case in many families, when Alyce’s family emigrated the local authorities (illiterate, uneducated ancient civil servants) made an error in her family name and it was changed from the original. In the big move to Wales, she decided to go back to her roots and was registered as Alyce Gwildfyre. She considered translating Gwyldfire into Welsh; however, no one could pronounce it (Gwyyd-ufel), so she held fast.

Since the 1970s the organization has remained fairly stable and, despite technological advances, still retains the traditional flying musk oxen for the transportation division. That is why on every boy and girl’s birthday, presents magically appear after the traditional serving of cake, which is a story for another time.

Original story by Brian Racine and Jennifer Jilks. Photos by, public domain, and Jen Jilks


Nancy Tapley said...

Well, now, that explains the huge tracks in the yard by the barn where the deer usually hang out... the musk-ox must have paused here for a snack on their way to your house! Hope you had a wondrous birthday... (and remembered the bit of the tradition where you have to leave carefully sliced apples on a plate, along with one wrapped chocolate, for Alice and the musk-oxen...)

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Happy Belated Birthday! Can we borrow your Alyce? What a fun story.

Jenn Jilks said...

Brian and I had fun writing it. Feel free to link to it, Sallie.

Sometimes...boredom, our high-pressured volunteer work! Brian often comes up with bizarre stories!