A long long time ago may be longer than you think
The Brothers Grimm were
The Brothers Grimm themselves believed many of the fairy tales they popularized, including Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel and Snow White, dated back to the birth of the Indo-European language family.
Conventional thought was that these tales that were only a few hundred years old.
Science has come down on the Grimm side.
Has Jack been climbing than beanstalk for more than 5,000 years?
A study used the Aarne-Thompson-Uther Classification of Folk Tales, an index that breaks fairy tales down into groups like “The search for the lost husband” (Beauty and The Beast) , “The persecuted heroine” (Cinderella) and “The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure” (Jack and the Beanstalk).
They tracked down the fairy tales to 50 Indo-European language speaking populations.
Beauty and the Beast and Rumpelstiltskin seem to be about 4,000 years old while Jack’s been climbing than beanstalk for more than 5,000 years ago.
The oldest fairy tale may be “The Smith and the Devil”, which was estimated to date back to the bronze age!
In the story, a blacksmith strikes a deal with a malevolent supernatural being, such as the Devil, Death or a genie.
The blacksmith exchanges his soul for the power to weld any materials together.
He then uses this power to stick the villain to an immovable object, such as a tree, to renege on his side of the bargain.
This basic plot is the same from India to Scandinavia, according to the research.
People who would surely find our world as bizarre as – well, a talking frog – loved pretty much the same fairy tales as we will tell tonight for Tell A Fairy Tale Day.
Siobhan is a freelance writer, research addict and lover of twisted history. If you like horrible but amazing history, check out her website www.interesly.com or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/interesly. Or you can reach her through www.siobhanoshea.com.