The winter solstice was a primary time for werewolf births and activity in ancient werewolf lore, transmuted to Christmas Eve with the rise of Christianity. As a Lithuanian-Australian, Rima has always known what it is to be a hybrid, to sit between two cultures. In a country without wolves, the dingo serves as the local representative of the devil’s hound while also embodying the cultural complexities and challenges faced by New Australians. Its status as native animal is contested and the default classification of the blonde canine remains ‘feral’ outside national parks despite the dingo having been part of the Australian ecosystem for at least 4000 years. Debates also continue as to whether the dingo should be classified as Canis familiaris dingo (domestic dog dingo), Canis lupus dingo (wolf dingo), or Canis lupus familiaris dingo (wolf domestic dog dingo), all three options describing a creature which straddles the boundaries of civilisation and wilderness.
Rima has also known the curse of those born at Christmas time, robbed of their unique celebrations (and gifts). This is exacerbated in Lithuanian culture, which holds its primary gift-giving celebration, Kūčios, on Christmas Eve. Other archaic werewolf legends from the region tell of people transforming into wolves after drinking the water that settles in a paw print, or from passing through the roots of particular trees. In the Werewolf Pines (Vilkaču Priede) of Skaņaiskalns National Park, Latvia, for example, the ancient trees reputedly serve as supernatural portals. The Mazsalacā tourism website provides helpful instructions for effecting werewolf transformations, specifying that one must crawl “three times, unclothed, backwards through the roots during the full moon on a Thursday.”