In French folklore, wandering sprites who attach themselves to households and both help and plague the residents. Goblins live in grottoes but are attracted to homes that have beautiful children and lots of wine. When they move in, they help by doing household chores at night and by disciplining children—giving them presents when they are good and punishing them when they are naughty. Goblins have an unpredictable, mischievous nature, and instead of doing chores at night will sometimes keep everyone awake by banging pots and pans, moving furniture, knocking on walls and doors and snatching bedclothes off sleeping persons. Goblins who become tiresome can be persuaded to leave by scattering flaxseed on the floor. The sprites get tired of cleaning it up every night.
Goblins are the equivalent of Brownies in England and Scotland, Kobalds in Germany, Domoviks in Russia and other sprites in other countries. They have become associated with Halloween and are said to roam the night when the veil is thinnest between the world of the living and the world of the dead.
- Briggs, Katherine. An Encyclopedia of Fairies. New York: Pantheon, 1976.
- Leach, Maria, ed., and Jerome Fried, assoc. ed. Funk & Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend. New York: Harper & row, 1972.