Most of us think of magic, castles, princesses and happily ever after when we think of fairy tales. While the term fairy seems to allude to there being a fairy in the story, this is not always the case. Rather, it is often just used as a reference to magical or enchanted elements in the story.
We tend to believe that these are wonderous heartwarming stories. However, quite to the contrary, that is not always the case. There is also an evil side to these whimsical tales. Long before Prince Charming came along these stories had a very dark side.
They often included poisonings and gruesome deaths. While many fairy tales involve good versus evil, not all of them have a happy ending!
These are stories that take place in a magical setting and involve imaginary characters. They often include characters like fairies, trolls, elves and talking animals, just to name a few.
Purely fiction, but also purely delightful!
In a fairy tale anything can happen and any creature can exist! The stories are a mixture of fantasy, supernatural and make believe.
Fairy tales are stories passed through generations
The tales originated from stories that have been handed down through generations. Although some of them are based on facts, others are based purely on fables and legends.
As the stories pass through generations they are retold countless times. Quite often some pieces of the original stories will be left out and other new pieces will be added in.
Fairy tales bring us captivating stories of folklore and legends. The tales that we read today are the folklore legends from a time long past.
The oldest fairy tale goes back over 6000 years.
The Smith and The Devil
The tale of The Smith and The Devil dates back over 6000 years. It is a European tale dating back to 1634. It was later to be retold by the Brothers Grimm.
Temerjis, was a blacksmith, he lived in a village where everyone was evil, except himself. The devil decided to pay him a visit and strike a deal with the blacksmith. After all, he wanted everyone to be at least a little bit evil! The devil proposed that Temerjis would sell his soul to the devil in exchange for a super natural power. The devil granted him the power to weld any material in exchange for his soul. However, this did not work as the devil had planned.
The blacksmith cleverly used this power to stick the devil to an immovable object. Allowing him to renege on his deal with the devil!
Yes, there really was a Rapunzel!
Rapunzel is based on the story of Saint Barbara. She was a young woman in 4th century Italy.
Her father thought that she was so beautiful that he needed to lock her way in a tower. He did because he did not want her to have the attention of any men.
Rapunzel was a Christian woman and she would dutifully say her prayers while she passed her time in the tower.
Rapunzel felt the need to speak to God through her prayers. Because her father was a pagan, he was angered by her Christian beliefs. He could take no more of it and in a fit of rage, he had Rapunzel beheaded!
There are many different versions of Rapunzel’s story:
Another popular twist on Rapunzel’s story was that she lived in a castle with her parents, the king and queen.
Rapunzel had long golden hair that was thought to have magical healing powers.
Mother Gothel was a selfish witch who lived in a nearby village and she desperately wanted to possess and control Rapunzel’s magic healing powers.
One day she decided that she would kidnap Rapunzel. Mother Gothel took Rapunzel deep into the woods and locked her in a tall tower.
Mother Gothel never allowed Rapunzel to cut her hair, fearing that by cutting her hair Rapunzel would lose the magical healing powers.
The witch not only wanted Rapunzel’s long hair for its magical powers, but she needed it in order to use it as a rope to scale the tower.
The Grimm’s Brothers Version
The Grimm Brothers version of this story was that a prince had entered Rapunzel’s tower. He scaled up the tower by using Rapunzel’s long hair to climb to the top of the tower and go through her window.
The visit from the prince had left her pregnant with his child. That was that last time that she would see the prince!
The prince no longer paid her visits and Rapunzel was left alone to give birth to a set of twins.
The witch was furious with the prince for having the audacity to scale the tower. She then set a curse upon him that left him blind! His fate was to wander aimlessly through the forest for the rest of eternity.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were German librarians. In the early 19th century they began to collect and publish local folklore.
They started to interview family and friends and gathered stories and fables that had been handed down through generations. They then used these stories to publish their first book. Published in 1892, Children and Household Tales was a compilation of those stories.
There were many famous fairy tales in this collection. They included Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. This collection of fairy tales would later become known as Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
The Grimm’s Brothers original writings were often disturbing, morbid tales. So much so in fact that they the tales would have made for great horror movies! Their early stories contained an awful lot of violence and dark content. Keeping in mind that originally their stories were directed towards an adult audience , they were not meant for children.
The stories would later have be modified to softer versions that were suitable for children to read.
The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Anderson
Born in 1805, Hans Christian Anderson was the Danish master of fairy tales.
A prolific writer of novels, plays and poems, he was best known for his fairy tales.
During his lifetime, he wrote over 156 stories. These stories were translated into more than 125 languages.
His stories often presented lessons of virtue in the face of adversity. Furthermore, they were directed at both children and adults. Some of his most famous tales included The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Match Girl, Thumbelina and The Little Mermaid.
His stories inspired both ballets and films. Hans Christian Anderson died in 1875 at the age of 70.
There was a bronze statue erected and dedicated to him in the Copenhagen City Square.
Fairy Tales Adapted By Disney
Fairy tales were an inspiration for the Disney films studio. These stories were cleverly re-invented and adapted by Disney studios.
Disney has released dozens of animated feature films and shorts that they adapted from the classic fairy tales.
Their first animated version of a fairy tale was Little Red Riding Hood which was released in 1922.
Disney adaptations have been retold in the the classic sense of fairy tales. They always begin with once upon a time and they always end with happily ever after.
Disney films are considered to be a wholesome version of the more disturbing classics.
In order to make the films appropriate for all age groups the Disney team have altered and removed many of the most gruesome parts of the original fairy tales. By replacing those parts with a softer, less violent version, they soon became famous for their animated versions of classic fairy tales.
Some of their more recent releases were Frozen and Frozen II. Both of these were adapted from the original Hans Christian Anderson tale, “The Snow Queen”. First published in 1845, it is a tale of good versus evil.
While the Disney version pulls from some of the elements of the original story, it is largely a Disney original.
Fairy tales have been told for thousands of years
The fairy tales that we know and love today, have been told for thousands of years.
They are for the most part stories that have been passed on in shared cultural history for many years.
- The story of Cinderella can be traced back to 9th century China!
- Jack and The Beanstalk was a tale that was told over 5000 years ago. It was originally rooted in the story, The Boy Who Stole The Ogre’s Treasure.
- Two notable fairy tales, were stories that were told about 4000 years ago. Beauty and The Beast and Rumpelstiltskin are among todays favorites, but they are deeply rooted in the past.
Fairy tales live in the fantasy world of our imaginations
Fairy tales are written with a mixture of both legends and folklore from the stories of the past and a large dose of imagination. Through their writings, they have allowed the legends and folklore to continue. It is now up to us to pass them on to the next generation.
Whether you are just reading a fairy tale or watching it on the big screen, it can transport you back to a magical place. These stories can teach us about both emotions and morals. They can present us with good and evil, as well as showing us the vices and virtues of their characters. They can give us plenty of food for thought. Possibly, we can bring some of those lessons and morals back with us into our real world.
Take a break from reality
By reading children a fairy tale at bedtime you can spark their imagination. You can carry them to another world that is far away from the realities of our everyday life. Perhaps it will take them to a place that is calmer and more peaceful. Allowing them to clear their heads of troubles and go to an imaginary world of princesses and castles.
Regardless of how old you are, you can indulge yourself by reading a good book of fairy tales or by watching an animated version of them. You can transport yourself into another world, far away from the real world that you live in, into a world of fantasy. Slay a dragon or kiss a prince! It can be good for the soul to take a break from reality. By allowing yourself to fantasize about what might be rather than what really is.
Fairy tales have a way of clearing our thoughts and healing our hearts, even if it is only temporary. Its never too late to be young once more and it is never too late to live happily ever after!
“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever”~ Walt Disney
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