Gaffer Klas, also known as "Klas the Whitebear", "Klas Hearthfire", "Klas Wintersmith" and "Klas Blessedvale" is one of several prominent hobbit folk figures called "Blessedvales". Klas is a particularly seasonal Blessedvale, his festivals being held exclusively in winter, however there are a few stories of Klas in the Book of Blessedtales which do not feature ice and snow. Klas is a clever old halfling, though quite strong and good at working with his hands. Klas is also particularly important to the practice of gift-giving among halflings and especially the celebration of birthdays and Hearthsdays. The most reverence to Klas is given in Helmondsshire, where he is reputed to have saved the shire from wolves around 1650 b.S.
Klas is described as a large hobbit,
both in size and in height, with a white beard that stretches down to his knees,
white and curly hair on his feet and toes. This is unsual, even among especially
old hobbits, the hair on the feet retains
its colour long after the hair on the head turns white and falls out.
Halflings usually say this is because the
feet "stay young while the head grows old". Klas is also described as being a
blacksmith, with a great brown apron marked by singes, strong arms and hands and
a broad chest from his work. While stories often depict Klas as being swarthy,
the oldest portray him as being quite dark of skin "with a hide like a
Personality. Stories describing Klas always being with his jovial smile and bright eyes. Despite having lived long enough for "his beard to turn white and the hair on his toes too" Klas still has a childish delight over making things and the giving and receiving of gifts. He is by no means an ill tempered character, or given to harsh punishment, but rewards good and just behaviour. It should be said that Klas is a hobbit and shares the general appreciation for a well played joke or prank, but does not approve of vengeful tricks or harmful endeavours, no matter their intent.
Stories also paint Klas with a discerning eye for problems, preferring to put his own hand to solving it rather than wait for the aid of others. Particular to Klas is the ability to understand what makes a good or needed gift, rather than giving someone a pointless mathom.
Mythology. Klas is one of many hobbit folk figures, and his tales are included in The Book of Blessedtales, next to those of the other Blessedvales. Fewer hobbits know stories about Klas than they do stories of Mian or of Dalireen, however, Klas and the Bear is one story certain to be heard around the hearth come snowfall in the Shires.
Those stories of Klas that do not include snow and ice often teach young halflings to avoid "complaining of cold to spite the snow".
Confusion among the Big Folk as to the nature of the Blessedvales has led some to believe that Klas is a deity, rather than referred to with cheerfulness or polite reverence. In fact, the habit of some hobbits (usually a little worse for drink) to use the Vales in oaths or cursing may have led to this unfortunate confusion.
Becoming a Patron. Klas is best known for his defeat of a large pack of wolves that crossed the Vandrina one particularly cold winter, (believed to have occured around 1650 b.S.) which actually caused the mighty river to freeze solid. What makes his story particularly interesting is that Klas did so with the aid of a great white bear. Following his mighty deed, Klas distributed the pelts and meat of the beasts among the halflings that the pack had terrorized.
Lore. Klas is represented by a large white bear, which may be worn as a badge to hold a cloak shut, and is occasionally worn as a badge of office by Mayors in Helmondshire.
Rituals/Celebrations. Klas is celebrated around hearths late in winter with feasting, as a thanks for a harvest that has lasted until then and will last until spring again. Halflings usually refer to the week long affair, during which individuals may find themselves invited to several such parties and quite sick of them at the end, as Klastide or Hearthsdays (and the illness from eating too much, Hearthsdaze). Klastide begins the morning of the Restday before the thirty-first of Frozen Rivers and lasts a week. Should the last day of Klastide fall on the thirty-first itself, festivites may extend throughout the night and into the small hours of the new year. It is common for guests to Hearthdays feasts to bring gifts of some sort, food, song or stories to share by the hearth.
Importance. Klas is a hobbit figure and has not spread to the Big Folk in the way some of the other Blessedvales have. His festival at the year's end is also replicated in a smaller form during birthday parties. The Big Folk are sometimes confused by the halfling practice of birthday parties wherein the individual whose birthday is being celebrated gives gifts to the guest and not the other way around.
Someone who is particularly adept at giving needed or useful gifts is said to have the "wisdom of Whitebeard" and if a person is generous they have "Hearthfire's heart". If an individual means to get something done despite obstacles they might say "Vales willing and the river don't freeze" to indicate this.
 The compendiumist must stress the importance of the fact that Klas, like the other Blessedvales is in no way a deity or otherwise supernatural. While it is a common misconception of the Big Folk that figures such as Klas, Mian and Dalireen are gods, these figures are merely well thought of and remembered and celebrated during particular times of the year. They are believed to have been actual living people at some point in history and are merely respected fortheir deeds or wisdom. [Return]