10 things Grimms Fairy' Tales you got wrong via Timbuktu

December 21, 2012

Every Friday we share our favorite post of the week from Timbuktu, this one was fun to read and who knew Little Red Riding Hood was not her real name?!

You may have seen the awesome Google Doodle today: one of the best thus far, we think, dedicated to the 200th anniversary of a book that changed children’s lives – the Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

A screenshot of today’s Google Doodle

The Grimm Brothers’ stories have become the classics of children literature, and the stories have been told so many times that, as it happens, sometimes a few details have been changed in the telling, or parts of the stories have been forgotten. Here are a few of them.

1 – Cinderella’s ball didn’t happen the way you think…

Cinderella wasn’t invited to one ball, but to a whole tree days festival, and she manages to go to three balls in a row, each time wearing a wonderful dress, but without getting there in a pumpkin-turned-carriage. Also, there was no midnight spell cast on Cinderella, she just wanted to go home after each ball.

2 – … and she didn’t wear glass slippers.

On the first ball, Cinderella wore “a pair of slippers embroidered with silk and silver. There is no mention of what kind of slippers she was wearing on the second ball, but in the third “the slippers were golden,” and she famously lost one of them.

3 – Hansel and Gretel’s witch’s house were not made of gingerbread, nor marzipan.

Although the German tradition of building gingerbread houses for Christmas (this recipe is great to do just that) originated from Hansel and Gretel’s story, in the original version of the story the witch’s home was actually “built of bread and roofed with cakes,” with windows “of clear sugar.” No marzipan, nor gingerbread, sorry about that. Also, Gretel’s name was originally spelled Grethel.

4 – Snow White fell for the evil Queen’s disguises three times.

Pretty she was pretty, lovely she was lovely, but Snow White was perhaps not the smartest cookie. While living with the seven dwarves, she opened the door three times to the evil Queen who wanted to kill her. The first time, the queen tried to strangle her with the “good wares, fine wares” she was pretending to sell, but the dwarves saved her on time; the second, she offered to brush Snow White’s hair and poisoned her with the comb, but again the dwarves saved their friend; and then the third time Snow White actually let the Queen in and ate the red half of an apple that was half red half white. Let’s make sure we teach our kids Snow White is not a role model.

5 – Snow White’s evil queen had a horrible death.

The tale of Show White ends with the evil Queen’s death – not quite the “happily ever after” one may imagine to read. The Queen, who went to Snow White’s wedding to see her beauty for herself, was given “ready red-hot iron shoes, in which she had to dance until she fell down dead.”

6 – Little Red Riding Hood was not Little Red Riding Hood’s real name…

Nor the title of the story. Her correct name is Little Red Cap, which is what the story is called too.

7 – … and there were two wolves in Little Red Cap.

Once the story we all know is over, and the first wolf is killed with his belly full of stones, a second wolf makes an appearance. He tries to stop Little Red Cap, like the first wolf did, but this time she is smarter than him – which makes her a much better example for our kids than Snow White. She goes to her grandmother’s house and the wolf eventually follows, pretending to be Little Red Cap again: but he has bad luck, as this time no one falls for his wicket tricks, and he ends up drowning in a bucket full of the water that the grandma had used to cook sausages.

8 – Rapunzel was a single mother.

We’ll admit we had a few troubles remembering what happened to Rapunzel, aside for her letting down her long tresses so the prince climb up to her tower. And we sure didn’t remember – in fact we did not know – the end of the story. So here is what happened: after the witch who’s keeping her locked in the tower found out Rapunzel had let the prince come visit her, she sent her to a far away desert. Subsequently, she made the prince  blind, and he wandered for several years in misery until he got to the “desert place where Rapunzel lived with her twin-children that she had born.” That is right! Rapunzel raised her kids as a single mother for several years before she and the prince met again – kudos to her. As soon as they met, he could see again, leading to a proper happy family ending.

9 – Snow White had a sister. 

In one of the Grimm Brothers tales, Snow-White has a sister named Rose-Red (the story is called Snow-White and Rose-Red). Not only, but in that story she ended up marrying a prince who had been bewitched by a wicked dwarf and made to run around the forest as a bear (she married him after the bearskin had fallen off). This mix of Snow White, spells and dwarves has us a bit confused, however perhaps Snow White was just a very common name in the early XIX Century, and so were dwarves (good and evil), so the protagonist of this story is actually someone else.

10 – And about Sleeping  Beauty…

… well, sleeping beauty happened exactly as you think it does. The king’s son woke up the beautiful princess, who had fallen asleep after pricking herself with a spindle, because of a spell a witch had cast on her. Furthermore, this is the one story that actually ends with: “and they lived very happily together until their lives’ end.”

Brought to you by Timbuktu.