Fairy Tale Origins from Around the Worl

Fairy Tale Origins from Around the Worl
    Children in virtually every culture throughout the world are told fantastical stories—better known as fairy tales—practically from the time they are born. Storytelling is an art almost as old as time itself; many of our most well-known fairy tales were passed down from generation to generation through the oral tradition of storytelling. As the stories were passed down, they were often shared with children to teach a moral lesson; in medieval times, they were a form of pure entertainment for adults. Since many of these stories were told orally, they have been modified over the years—in fact, many of these stories as we know them today bear little, if any, resemblance to their original versions. They are definitely a far cry from the “happily ever after” version that generations of little girls and boys fell in love with thanks to the Disney films. The truth is, most fairy tales are much too gruesome to share with children at bedtime (unless they wanted to cause nightmares!). Below are a few of the original storylines and country of origin for favorite fairy tales: Cinderella: Some women will go to any length to get their man. The tale of Cinderella can be traced back to medieval China. As in the Disney movie, Cinderella is forced to live with her stepmother and two stepsisters and has an uncanny relationship with animals. The handsome prince comes calling in a quest to find the woman who left the glass slipper behind at the ball. In a move that Disney would never include, one of the stepsisters cuts off her toe, the other her heel, in order to get the shoe to fit. Of course, the petite shoe fits Cinderella perfectly. This tale was thought to originate in China during a time when women were often chosen by their husbands based on the size of their feet; small feet were most desirable. Little Red Riding Hood: French storyteller Charles Perrault is credited with writing the original tale of Little Red Riding Hood. In that version, a well-meaning but naïve little girl is given wrong directions by a wolf on the way to her grandmother’s house. Later, the wolf eats the little girl (before she makes it to her grandmother’s). The Little Mermaid: Who didn’t cheer when Ariel, the little mermaid, becomes human and marries prince Eric at the end of the 1989 Disney film? Unfortunately, the original story by Hans Christian Andersen of Denmark wasn’t quite so sunny. In his version, the Prince marries another princess and Ariel is beside herself. She somehow procures a knife which she is supposed to use on Eric; instead, she kills herself. Andersen referred to her as a “daughter of the air” waiting to go to heaven. The Frog Prince: This originally written by German brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, tells the story of a young woman who befriends a frog. She makes a number of promises to him, which he insists she keeps. At the end of the story, the frog transforms into a handsome prince. In the original version written by German brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the young woman becomes so annoyed with the frog, she hurls him against a wall. Beauty and the Beast: Variations of this tale are common throughout many cultures. In Turkey, the story is called the Princess and the Pig; Japan, The Monkey Son-in-Law; China, The Fairy Serpent. French aristocrat Madame Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont modified and published the version we are most familiar with today. Regardless of the culture, the tale focuses on a beautiful, kindhearted young girl who is forced to live with (and eventually marry) a horrible, disfigured beast in return for her father’s freedom. Over time, the girl learns to love the Beast in his own right; in some cultures the Beast transforms into a handsome Prince because of the strength of the girl’s love. In some versions the transformation occurs after the girl and the beast have married and consummated the marriage (complete with some graphic details).

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