Did you know that the most popular fairy tales including Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel originated mostly from Germany?
These classic fairy tales are in fact old folk stories that were passed down from generation to generation orally through word of mouth. This all changed in the early 1800’s when brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, scholars and linguists, became aware that these ancient stories were on the brink of disappearing and could be forgotten about forever.
The story goes that the brothers feared the tales would be lost due to the rise of Industrialization – a time when people living in rural areas were relocating to the cities for work. Thus began the Grimm brother’s quest to save the old folk stories from extinction. Jacob and Wilhelm travelled throughout the country to collect the stories, interview people in the villages and record these down. The first edition of ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’ consisted of 86 stories and was published in 1812.
Interestingly, many of the original tales weren’t children’s stories at all and some contained strong adult themes. It’s also said that some tales were embellished by the Grimm brothers as they translated these into childrens fairytales. Whatever the truth, today you can take a road trip through Germanys’ medieval towns, forests, castles and quaint villages and see the places where the Grimm brothers gained inspiration for the backdrops of the fairy tales.
Just some of these locations include The Black Forest (Hansel and Gretal), the Lohr Castle (Snow White), the Trendelburg Fortress (Repunzel) and Sababurg Castle (Sleeping Beauty) to name a few. Even the gingerbread house (made famous in Hansel and Gretel), was inspired by German monks in the 13th century making gingerbread.
By the end of their amazing quest, Jacob and Wilhelm had published over 200 memorable stories with equally beautiful illustrations. The stories became so popular that they were translated into at least 100 languages and were also adapted to countless films and television programs, in particular productions by Disney. It’s said that the Grimm’s Tales have only been outsold by Shakespere and the bible.
Wow – now that’s a magical story in itself!