It’s a marvelous way to get your little bundles of joy to sleep…finally…but where did fairy tales originate from?
Let’s follow the nightmarish breadcrumb trail to the most popular tale’s gloomy origins…
The Hansel and Gretel Plot
I always found Hansel and Gretel a little bit disturbing – not exactly the perfect picture to paint a kid before you turn the lights out…
Parents decide that the only way they can avoid starvation is to abandon their children (the stepmother’s idea). Kids end up hiding in the forest where they meet a two-faced witch who fattens them up for eating.
At the time, this plot was not a million miles away from the nightmare of the Great Famine of 1315-1317…apparently this was the inspiration for this kid’s cannibal tale.
The Dark Red Riding Hood
When the Brothers Grimm finally got hold of Little Red Riding Hood, they actually humanized the tale so that it was more acceptable for children.
The original version, by Charles Perrault, sees the little girl actually cannibalize her grandmother by mistake!
That’s right – good old granny gets ripped to shreds by the big bad wolf and poor ‘Red’ ends up unwittingly feeding on her guts.
Apparently, another early version of this tale sees ‘Red’ being forced to strip naked and join the wolf in bed. She goes through the motions with the wolf…who then eats her after he’s finished the job!
Not exactly the nightmare I want to put in my kid’s head before sleepy time.
The REAL Little Mermaid
Disney’s Ariel really had an easy time of it…when compared to Hans Christian Andersen’s nightmarish 1837 version…
This tale tells of a mermaid that gives up her singing voice so that she can grow legs and steal the heart of a local prince. However, the legs give her nothing but agonizing pain, and she has just one day to marry the prince, lest she be turned to sea foam.
She suffers through a tortured dance with the prince in complete pain…but he decides to marry another woman at the ball!
Ariel’s sisters provide her with a weapon to kill the prince and break the curse, but she cannot bring herself to do it…and turns into sea foam…
The Sleeping Beauty Nightmare
The original Sleeping Beauty fairy tale is based on an Italian folk tale entitled ‘Sun, Moon, and Talia’, by a poet named Giambattista Basile. It was apparently released in 1634.
The lead female character, Talia, somehow manages to get a sliver of flax lodges stuck underneath one of her finger nails causing her to appear dead to her father.
Her dad, who is completely heartbroken, cannot bring himself to bury her body…so he lays her down in a bedroom of the family home.
A few months later, a local king follows his hunting falcon into Talia’s estate and finds her asleep on the bed. When he’s unable to wake the unconscious woman, he rapes her!
Talia becomes pregnant with the king’s children, and manages to give birth to two children in her comatose state. One of these little angels then manages to suck out the flax lodges stuck underneath it’s mother’s nail, waking her in the process.
But the king has long since married, and when his new wife finds out about Talia and the children, she hatches a plan to capture the kids, cook them, then serve them to the king.
The royal cook agrees to this grizzly chore…but ducks out of it at the last minute – he serves the king lamb instead.
He then informs the king about his queen’s plan, and the king has her burned at the stake for punishment.
He then ends up marrying Talia.
Quite the horror soap opera really, isn’t it?
Where Did Fairy Tales Originate From?
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg – The Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Frog Prince and many other fairy tales are based on nightmarish visions…that should be kept well away from children.
If you have any thoughts or opinions on the subject we have covered here today, please leave them in the comment section below.