Once upon a time, in a kingdom far far away, there lived a beautiful princess.
Fairy tales, one of the first stories we get familiar with in our lives. I remember my dad reading them to me and my brother. From these big books with beautiful pictures in them, so I could see what my father was reading to us. Tales from Hans Christian Andersen, the brothers Grimm or Mother Goose.
Although nowadays fairy tales are mostly associated with stories for children. They used to be told to adults. Because when you want to tell somebody something important, you best wrap it in a very good story. That way the message will be remembered. And if the story is exceptionally good, even be told along. (Remember my post about rumour?)
Fairy tales are very old. Once they were told and carried around the world by mouth. Around 1725 the Brothers Grimm started collecting all the tales they heard in their homeland Germany. To preserve them for future generations.
Little Red Riding Hood is known to have been around a long time before 1500. And tales somewhat similar are known around the entire world. But that is of course because the message from that tale "Listen to your mother" is a world wide message.
What makes a fairy tale? The way a fairy tale is told is normally the same. The unlikely person to be the hero (a girl with a little red hood, the poor daughter, the beggar) gets some help (from a hunter, a fairy god-mother or a prince) to become the hero of the story. But first, there has to go something wrong (eaten by a wolf, losing a glass slipper, being caught in the castle). It will always end on a happy note. And a fairy tale is usually set in a world where magic still is around. Where witches, leprechauns, fairies and magical animals live.
Current written fairy tales are now labelled Fantasy. But The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Narnia and the Disc World-series are of course also fairy tales.
There is a lot to be told about fairy tales. But I'm off to my real world, try to get everything fixed with my magic wand to make sure ...
... all lived happily ever after.