Ahtohallan: its origin and meaning
It may have ended just as a fairy tale, but the Frozen universe has evolved in a pretty complex manner as the sequel came out. One of the essential concepts is Ahtohallan, which first appears in Frozen 2 and plays a vital role in the whole story plot. Examining why this place happened to have this name would help us to understand the whole storyline deeply. We cover this issue in this post.
One of the fundamental concepts of understanding the Frozen universe is Ahtohallan. Sometimes it is described as a river of memory or to Northuldra, a mythical place nobody has ever seen. Since all the story plots of Frozen 2 emerge from Ahtohallan, and it depicts the journey of Elsa and Anna reaching there, it is important first to understand what this place is. Then, what does the name ‘Ahtohallan’ stands for?
The name of many characters and spots in Frozen have their meaning. The name of some characters, such as Anna or Hans, is derived from the author of the original novel ‘Snow queen’. Even some characters share the same names in the original novel. Then it would be natural to ask this kind of question. Is the name Ahtohallan originated from some novel or myth?
This is the central place where the magic of Frozen begins. If we can identify what it stands for, we could get closer to the core of the Frozen universe. First, let us retake a look at Ahtohallan.
One can interpret this just as a single word. Still, we can get some inspiration from this word by referring to Norse mythology, especially the Finnish one.
Many theories exist, but it seems most plausible to say that the word Ahtohallan anis originated from Finnish mythology. We can divide this word into some parts, and we can find some relationships between each segment and Finnish mythology. The following three words need our attention.
|Ahto||Sea god in Finnish mythology|
|Halla||Frost, below-freezing temperature|
We first focus on the word Ahto. A lot of gods appear in Finnish mythology, but what we need to focus on is the god named Ahto. Ahto, sometimes called Ahti in Finnish mythology, is a sea god. His castle, or the territory governed by him and his wife Wellamo, is located under the sea and called Ahtola. Plus, halla means frost or the temperature below water getting frozen in Finnish. Summing up, the word Ahtohallan could be dissembled into three different parts: Ahto + Ahtola + Halla. Considering the meaning of each word, we might interpret the meaning of Ahtohallan as ’the territory of frozen sea god’. Now the question is, what is this combination?
First, let’s take a look at the prefix Ahto. This word represents the sea god in Finnish mythology. Surprisingly, we can also find marks of godly being related to water through Iduna’s letter on the wrecked ship (the very first symbol). This means that the people in the past of the Frozen universe (or at least Iduna) believed that some divine being related to water existed. The water element has some unique position among the other four spirits in Frozen: people say it has a memory, or the first symbol on the map looks like water.
We don’t need to be precisely what the symbols on the map stand for. The thing is, the ancient people (or at least Iduna) believed that there existed some divine being. And that divine being would have some relationship to water, so they would have named it Ahto. All kinds of mythology (especially Animism) share a similar structure. Then its motif would have originated from Finnish mythology.
The past people of the Frozen universe might also have notions that Ahto’s power influences some territory or place. The dark sea, located in the far north of Ahtohallan, is described as a violent place protected by the water Nokk. So it would be natural to speculate that the ancient people might have regarded this place as a divine or holy territory governed by a water god, so they would have named it Ahtola as in the Finnish mythology.
Then why the word Halla as suffix? Elsa had already answered this question.
Ahtohallan is frozen.
Obviously, the people in the past would have named this place Ahtola since this place seemed to be related to the water god, Ahto. However, what Elsa had found was glacial in a frozen form. Then we can speculate that the past people might also have observed this place in a frozen form, or heard from someone that it was frozen, so they would have added the suffix halla, which means frozen to this place. From this observation, we can further speculate that this place had appeared in frozen (halla) from in the past. That is, someone like Elsa in the past would have said to the people that this place was frozen, and these rumors would have spread among people, so people named this place halla.
I understand diverse interpretations exist on this subject, but we will discuss this deeper issue later.
But the above argument is just one hypothesis. Can we find any evidence supporting this idea in the movie?
Take a look at Iduna’s map again. On the top and left sides, we can find some numbers representing the latitude and longitude. These numbers show the latitude and longitude corresponding to 62.3 and 27.0, respectively. Then what would be this spot on the actual map on earth?
It is Finland. Some of you might have been confused at this stage. The motif of Frozen 1 is known as Norway, so it would be natural to expect the spot GPS pointing to be somewhere in Norway. Why is it Finland? Just a mistake?
We can regard it that way, but I think it is the sign where the concept and name Ahtohallan were motivated. In Frozen 1 and Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, we find a Norweign map and Norweign wavy-shaped cookies. These represent the motif of the film. Similarly, suppose the team was to insert some homage to Finland or its mythology. In that case, they might have inserted some sign of that country. From the making film or art book, we can also see that the story of Frozen 2 was motivated by Norse mythology. If it were from Norway, they would have put the GPS coordinates of Norway. This doesn’t look like a mistake, and I instead see this as an intended thing. Following this interpretation, the motif of Ahtohallan comes from Finnish mythology, and the directors had inserted its GPS coordinates as homage.
Summing up these arguments, it is plausible to say that the name Ahtohallan comes from Finnish mythology.
The word Ahtohallan in Frozen universe is a compound word that can be decomposed into Ahto + Ahtola + Halla and motivated by Finnish mythology. Each word represents the sea god, its territory, and the frost. We can find its evidence on Iduna’s map in the wrecked ship.