The Wooden Man in Kværndrup, Denmark

The Wooden Man appears as if sleeping.

Tucked away among the dusty rafters beneath the castle spire is a wooden doll that has a hold on Egeskov Castle and its occupants.

No one knows to whom the doll belonged, or how it came to be left in the dark attic of the imposing 16th-century castle. The dust-covered figure is the size of a small child and has been left, as if asleep, on a cushion.

Egeskov Castle is one of 123 manor houses and castles on the Danish island of Funen (Fyn). Built in the middle of a lake that provides a defensive moat, the castle has been home to the same family since 1784. A story has been passed down through the generations about the wooden doll in the castle’s attic. The legend states that if the wooden doll is moved from its cushion on the rafters, then the castle will sink into the moat on Christmas Eve.

Previous generations that lived within the castle refused to spend Christmas at the castle, fearing that the ominous tale would come true. However, the current occupants, Count Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille and his family have instead taken on a Danish festive tradition that is usually reserved for elves. They leave a bowl of rice pudding for the wooden man and have spent several Christmases at the castle without any major structural incidents or mishaps.

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