Thursday, February 14, 2019

Folktales about polyamory (Valentine's Day #FolkloreThursday Special)

Today is both #FolkloreThursday and Valentine's Day! I didn't want to do a plain old "love stories" theme, so I polled people on Twitter about what they wanted to read. The majority vote went to polyamory. So, here we go.

(Disclaimer: I'm not poly. Please correct me if I got something wrong.)

First off: What is polyamory? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is "the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time." It is about being in relationships with more than one other person at a time.

You can read a lot about it from various sources, such as this article in Teen Vogue, or this video, or this webcomic on non-monogamy. Don't take my word for it, please educate yourselves.

In terms of finding folktales that are "about polyamory", here are some things that I had to consider:
1. Polyamory is not polygamy. Polygamy means one person being married to multiple people (usually a husband with multiple wives) and is a cultural and legal practice where participants are not necessarily all equal.
2. Polyamory is not cheating. Someone having multiple lovers who don't know about each other is not polyamory.

With this said, the following folktales might not fit the definition perfectly either. I wanted to collect them so that people can pick them up and play with them, be inspired by them, and make tales with better representation. Because oral tradition works that way.

Gold-tree and Silver-tree
Scottish folktale

In this Celtic Snow White variant, Gold-tree is the daughter of a king and a jealous queen, Silver-tree. Since she is more beautiful, her mother wants to kill her; her father helps her escape with a prince, and start a new life. When Silver-tree finds out, she manages to find the girl when her husband is out hunting, and stick a poison thorn in her finger. Gold-tree falls into a death-like state. Her husband puts her in a glass coffin and grieves, and after a while, marries again. The new wife one day finds the coffin, and revives Gold-tree (so that she can see her husband happy). Not only that, but when Silver-tree shows up again, the second wife saves Gold-tree once and for all, tricking the mother into drinking her own poison. After that, the prince and his two wives live happily ever after.
Polygamy? Yes. But also, a whole lot of interaction between the two wives, and one woman rescuing another. Also, Kaleidoscope's Cassie Cushing tells a very pretty version of this.

The girl with three husbands
Spanish folktale

A father has a very strong-willed daughter. When three men court her at the same time, she decides she wants to marry all three of them. Her father tries to talk her out of it, but she insists, to he decides to send them on a quest, and see which one brings the best gift. One guy buys a magic mirror; one buys a magic ship, and the third a magic ointment that can revive the dead. The first looks into the mirror, and sees that the girl is dead. The second flies them all home on his ship, and the last uses the ointment to revive the girl. Getting out of her coffin, the girl tells her father "See? I need all three of them." And they live happily ever after.
(Once again, polygamy that could also be told as a polyamorous tale.)

Tengöri Hereberi Atyámuram
Hungarian folktale

A Magic Flight type tale, in which a boy, unwittingly promised before his birth, goes to serve on an island in the house of Tengöri Hereberi Atyámuram (a god-like figure, named after the first line of the Cuman translation of the Lord's Prayer). He falls in love with the lord's daughter, who helps him complete various tasks, and then they run away together. Her mother, however, curses them so that the young man forgets his love the moment he goes to visit his parents, and never returns to her in their home. Eventually, she finds him and reminds him, breaking the spell, but by that time, he is married again. I am including this story on this list because of what happens next: The husband says he loves them both, the two women get together, spend some time talking, and eventually return, telling him that they are satisfied with this arrangement. And they all live happily ever after.

The boy's dream
Greek folktale

A boy sees a dream, but refuses to tell anyone what it was about. His mother and father get angry and chase him away. The kings hires him, but soon becomes curious about the mysterious dream; when the young man refuses to tell, the king orders him to be executed. The princess, however, rescues the young man in secret, and they spend time eating and studying together every day. They fall in love, obviously. Eventually Kirali (a Turkish ruler or hero) starts sending tests to the king - which the young dreamer solves in secret, and the princess conveys to her father. Eventually the truth comes out, and the young man is invited to Kirali's court - where he finds out that Kirali's daughter is a witch, and she has been making up tests to lure him away, because she is in love with him, and jealous of the princess. When our hero finds this out, he suggests that he can marry both of them, and the women agree (no need for jealousy). One day, as they are all sitting together, the witch with a baby girl in her arms and the princess pregnant, the young man finally reveals his dream: He saw himself surrounded by three roses, "one open, one about to open, and one still a bud." It was his picture of perfect happiness.
(In my mind, this story is about two kinds of courtship, one a friends-to-lovers story and the other a love-hate story full of banter.)

The bear and the prince
Marathi folktale

In this stunning folktale from India, a bear who is "a demon and a magician" lives in an underground garden of trees that grow blood fruit. His daughter is human, and he makes the girl lure men into the cave every day, so that he can use their blood to water the trees. One day the girl comes across a prince in the jungle and lures him in - but they also fall in love. It turns out he has been on a mission, looking for the blood fruits to cure a sick princess he is also in love with. The girl helps the prince kill the demon bear and gather the fruit. The prince ends up marrying both her and the (cured) princess.
(I love the imagery in this tale, and also the implied love stories.)

Representation matters, people. There is more than one kind of happily ever after.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Every hero gets and ogre (Following folktales around the world 98. - Algeria)

Today I continue the blog series titled Following folktales around the world! If you would like to know what the series is all about, you can find the introduction post here. You can find all posts here, or you can follow the series on Facebook!

La ​princesa cautiva y el pájaro del viento
Mitos y cuentos del norte de Argelia
Óscar Abenójar · Ouahiba Immoune · Fátima-Zohra Menas
Editorial Verbum, 2015.

I spent a lot of time looking for a collection of Algerian folktales, and finally found one in Spanish. Which makes me sad because I would love to recommend this book to my storyteller friends who only read English and/or Hungarian. It is an excellent, well edited collection. It contains 48 stories collected from the oral tradition in Northern Algeria, proving that folktales are alive well into the 21st century. Some have been translated from the Arabic, while many from Kabyle. There is an abundance of extra information provided about the stories, as well as the storytelling tradition - which seems to be local, domestic, and mostly nocturnal. Apparently, Berber grandmothers would not tell stories in daylight, believing a close relative would die or their hair would fall out if they did.
The stories included in the book are fascinating, and there is a long opening study that explores their origins and connections. Many of them have not been recorded yet outside of Europe. The authors note that Kabyle folktales have stronger European connections than Middle Eastern or African, and, contrary to previous belief, they do not originate from the Middle Eastern Arabic story tradition (in other words, Berber folktales are not Arab folktales). There are some stories that don't have parallels at all, and there was at least one that seemed to be so old that it only survived in distant, isolated cultures in Djibouti and India. Berber folktales therefore are not a melting pot of African, Arab, and European traditions, but rather an archaic island tradition with various influences. The book contains folktales, wonder tales, pre-Islamic myths, and even anecdotes to show off the richness of this tradition.


I especially loved the title story about The captive princess and the Wind Bird. It was one of the longest and most complex stories in the book. It started with a princess locked in a tower who was visited every day by the bird, until she decided to follow it. To do so, she asked her father if she could leave the tower... and he said yes. Huh. She followed the bird around half the world, ended up being a servant in its mother's house, killed all evil members of the family, and flew away happily on the bird's back.
Another exciting but darker story was about A girl who rescued her brother from beasts. The mother and children ran away from the father; the mother was killed in the woods by beast, but the daughter rescued her baby brother. he kid returned the favor by exiling her from his house (by his wife's orders) later on. In the end, the girl found a husband and started her own happy family, and the earth swallowed up the evil sister-in-law. A similar dark fate befell The man who was eaten by an ogre (sadly, every supernatural being was translated to Spanish as "ogre", in most cases they were originally ghouls). He didn't listen to his wife, who suspected the stray goat he brought was was a monster in disguise. The clever woman got away with her child, and the foolish husband was consumed.
Apart from the belief about the dangers of telling stories by day, there was also a story about the dangers of telling stories by night - about A woman who told stories all night, got older with each tale, until she died in the morning. According to the informant, this story was told to children to explain why they could not ask for one more bedtime story...


I was happy to find a version of 'the treasures of the giant' tale type in The seven brothers and the ogre. This is the tale type where one clever sibling (in this case, literally half a boy, born from half an apple) saves the others from a man-eating monster, and then keeps sneaking back to steal the treasures of said monster. Another favorite tale type of mine, that of the 'talented brothers' also made an appearance - three brothers with extraordinary powers rescued their sister from an ogre. There was, of course, a 'magic flight' story, titled The daughter of the ogre and the son of the sultan, which was long and elaborate, featuring various adventures after the actual flight. At one point, the girl killed and skinned a servant girl, and took her place, wearing her skin as disguise... (many stories had gruesome details like this, by the way).
There were several familiar stories among the wisdom tales and jokes, such as The lost camel (in which three clever men used their detective talents in finding a lost camel), a Road shortened by a story, and The miller, his son, and the donkey.
I have encountered stories in other cultures about why human children can't immediately walk after birth like the young of animals. In this case, Berber shepherds believe that when the First Mother gave birth to the First Child, she refused to lick it clean, which is why the child didn't gain the power to walk until much later...

Where to next?

Thursday, February 7, 2019

#FolkloreThursday: Year of the Pig (Pig tales around the world)

With the lunar new year just behind us (February 5th), we are now, according to the Chinese zodiac, in the year of the (Earth) Pig.

Curly pig tail
Hungarian folktales very often begin with the same classic formula:
"Egyszer volt, hol nem volt, még az Óperenciás-tengeren is túl, még az Üveghegyen is túl, ott, ahol a kurta farkú kismalac túr..."
Which translates into:
"Once upon a time, far away, across the Óperenciás Sea, beyond the Glass Mountain, in the place where the curly-tailed piglet roots around..."
No one is exactly sure why the curly-tailed pig is such an important element, next to the mythical seas and mountains. My guess is because it rhymes. In at least one case I know, the formula goes "... in the place where they put golden shoes on the pig and floated it down the river", which is also quite the vivid image.

Whatever the case, in honor of Folklore Thursday and Year of the Pig, here are some of my favorite pig folktales from around the world:

The Ocean-Warming Pig
(Folktales from China)
A poor, bald-headed young orphan raises a pig in his hut. The pig grows large, but its skin shrivels like raisins. One day, a Muslim treasure-hunter offers to buy it for a large sum of money; Baldhead demands to know why the wrinkly pig is so valuable. He finds out that his pet is a so-called rare Ocean-Warming Pig: If you boil it in a cauldron on the beach, the sea will boil with it, and when all the water from the cauldron evaporates, so does the sea, leaving all its treasures uncovered. Baldhead immediately puts theory to practice; the sea boils down to such low levels that the Dragon King sends panicked messengers, asking him to stop. Baldhead gets to visit the Dragon King's underwater palace, and eventually wins the youngest dragon princess' hand.
(We never find out what happened to the wrinkly pig, though.)

The Red Pig
(Hungarian Folktales)
In this popular Hungarian folktale type, a poor couple wishes for a child. One day, a piglet is born to them (or, in some versions, comes down the chimney). They raise the pig as their own, and when she is old enough, send her to school. The piglet (occasionally named Malac Julcsa, Pig Julie, or Malacka Zsuzsi, Piglet Susie) proves to be a good student, and goes out to pick berries in the forest with her classmates after school. When no one is looking, she sheds the pig skin, and turns into a beautiful girl. Eventually, a guy sees her do this, falls in love with her, and marries her, despite the scandal and mockery of the entire town. On the wedding day, the pig turns into a beautiful girl forever.
Another, related version is very similar to my favorite Cinderella type (read about it here). In this one, instead of berry-picking, the pig makes her way into the king's garden to steal golden plums (first, with the help of a woodpecker, and second, with the help of a mole-rat). The prince spies a pretty girl climbing the golden plum tree, and tries three days in a row to catch her (the third day, she literally runs out of the garden between his legs). Eventually, he tracks the fleeing pig to her house, where he proposes to court her, they fall in love, and the rest is history.

Source and more info here
St. Anthony's Pig
(Italian folktales)
In this genius folktale from Sardinia, St. Anthony wows to steal fire from Hell, to keep people warm. He goes downstairs with his trusty pig companion, and asks to be let in. He is refused, but as he is talking through the cracked door with the devils, the pig sneaks in, and... well, raises hell inside Hell. It roots around, chews things, knocks thing over, pees on things... eventually, St. Anthony is let in to get the pig out. He takes with him a fennel staff, and when the staff touches the flames of Hell, its spongy inside starts to burn. Pig in one hand and staff in the other, Anthony says goodbye to Hell, and brings the stolen fire to our world.

Black Pig Dyke
(Armagh Folktales)
In this delightful folktale, a teacher who likes to torture students by turning them into various animals and making them hunt each other (how is that for the Hunger Games?) is punished by outraged parents by being turned into a large black pig. The pig ravages the countryside, tearing a deep ditch into the ground, but at least it can never turn back into a teacher again...

Bluebeard Pig
(Danish Fairy Book)
In this favorite Bluebeard variant of mine, a girl and her two sisters are kidnapped by a pig, who turns out to be a handsome but evil serial wife murderer. The youngest girl is smart enough to rescue her two sisters from captivity, and finally trick the pig-man into letting her go as well. This tale type exists with a lot of different villains (devil-man, dragon-man, male witch, etc.), but always has a smart female lead.

Beauty and the Pig
There are several variants of the Beauty and the Beast folktale type where the Beast is a pig. In some Hungarian versions I have blogged about before, he can even be extra special, such as a magical gardener pig, or a green pig.

Flying Pigs
(Dancing on Blades)
I have blogged about this charming story, and the "extreme pig herding" motif before here. A young swineherd has to keep the king's pigs together, while they repeatedly try to get away by burrowing into the ground, jumping into the river, or flying up into the air like balloons. Each time, they are retrieved by helpful animal companions.

Talking Pigs That Are Secretly Wizards And Also Have Military Training
Yes, this is also Hungarian folktale. I blogged about it here.

Happy Year of the Pig, everyone!

Monday, February 4, 2019

The last storytellers (Following folktales around the world 97. - Morocco)

Today I continue the blog series titled Following folktales around the world! If you would like to know what the series is all about, you can find the introduction post here. You can find all posts here, or you can follow the series on Facebook!

The Last Storytellers
Tales from the heart of Morocco
Richard Hamilton
I. B. Tauris, 2011.

Richard Hamilton collected thirty-seven folktales between 2006 and 2009 on the Jemaa el Fna, the famous market of Marrakesh, where the five tellers of these tales were among the last who still make (or used to make) a living from telling stories to a live audience. The translations are not verbatim, and Hamilton admits to occasionally embellishing the language of the stories, but they are close to the originals. This is not a folklore publication by a long shot, so it lacks notes, but it is a very enjoyable read, and has a long and detailed Introduction to the circumstances of collection, Moroccan storytelling tradition, and the tellers themselves.


I have always loved the Mute Princess story, and this book has a fascinating version of it, titled The gazelle with the golden horns. In it, the Sultan's third son, born from a black slave mother, succeeds in making the princess talk. He spends his life partying until one day four fairies attend his party and help him with a story; the guy cleans up, wins the princess, and becomes a great ruler. Another beautiful story also had a black hero: the tale of El-Ghaliya Bent Mansour started and ended with golden apples, and in-between the hero was helped by djinn, magic horses, fling carpets, and all the trappings of wonder tales to win the hand of a princess who lived underground.
Seven coins and a donkey was a fun story about three women who decided to punish a shopkeeper because he hated women and kept yelling after them. They managed to trick him three times so thoroughly that he almost ended up in jail, but they fixed things in the end, and he left Morocco deeply ashamed of himself. Crisis was also solved by women in The nobleman and his three sons, where a villain sold his soul to the Devil to turn handsome, and have the ability to curse the three young man into birds, and take their inheritance. The wife of the youngest son figured out the evil plan, and managed to break the curse. Some women, however, were less likable: The heroine of One hundred and one beheadings killed 101 of her suitors in duel, before she took a liking to one.
Since we are now in Africa, wisdom tales abounded in this book. In The trials of Nouraddine, a wise sultan figured out a way to make a corrupt judge return money a poor man left in his care. Basically, the sultan gave a whole lot more money to the judge to keep, so the next time Nouraddine made a fuss about his small sum, the judge gave it back out of annoyance. And then was jailed by the sultan in the treasure room.
The legend of Suleiman, the stork, and the City of Gold was simply beautiful; it told of how King Suleiman died in the moment he gazed upon the hidden City of Gold, and no one ever find that place again. There was also a story about How the Sahara was born: The first time a man told a lie, God promised to place a grain of sand on the earth, but people didn't listen, and the Sahara has been expanding ever since...


I was very happy to find a parallel to my favorite Sicilian Cinderella story, in which the girl sneaks into the king's garden to steal things. However, this one took an unexpected turn when she won the sultan's heart by revealing hos his wife had been cheating on him with a slave. Nour and the Sultan did marry in the end. Another, more traditional Cinderella story ended on a dark note when Aicha Rmada ordered her evil stepsister to be chopped into pieces, and fed to the stepmother.
The story of the Red Lantern was a classic tale in which a poor man wandered into a kingdom where glass was unknown; he sold his one lantern for a high price and return home rich. His greedy brother set out with a watch to the same kingdom, and his rare gift was rewarded with the king's most prozed possession - the red lantern. There was also a Moroccan version of The Hunchback and the Fairies; here, instead of the days of the week, the good man sang good ingredients for the couscous made by the djinn, and the bad man sang about bad ones.
Many of the wisdom tales were familiar. The king and his minister learned that there is something good in every bad thing; in The fakir and the frog, good advice saved a person's life; in The land and the treasure, a man made his lazy sons dig up the garden by hinting that he'd buried treasure in it. In The woman and the devil, a woman proved that she is smarter and more wicked than the Devil, and even trapped him in the end.
I have read versions of The imam and the wager from Bosnia and Ethiopia before; it's the story where someone wagers that they would survive a cold night on top of a tower, but then they also have to prove that distant fire did not warm them. The laundryman and the fountain was similar to Greek tales where someone finds the fountain of their luck, and see it is barely dripping. The tale of the wife who is locked in, but still manages to escape with the neighbor (under The eyes of Ben'Adi) was familiar from the USA, among other places. I have also encountered The shoemaker and the bird before; it's the tale type where one has to eat a certain part of a magic bird to gain magical powers of wealth. A related tale type about a princess cheating a hero out of all his magical possessions (Fortunatus type) was represented by The sultan's daughter and the leper. In a variant of Grimm's Queen Bee, The traveler and the pasha's daughter, the hero, after finally winning the princess with the help of grateful animals, insisted on paying reparations to the families of the suitors who died before him.

Where to next?

Friday, January 25, 2019

MythOff Budapest: Myths from five continents

2019 is off to a great start: We just had the 8th MythOff in Hungary! We did not only have a new storyteller, but also a brand new, very nice and supportive venue. If everything goes well, we might have found a permanent home.

For this very first MythOff of the year, each storyteller drew a culture or region from a hat, and they had to pick their myth accordingly. Since we accidentally had tellers for five continents, we decided to make that the theme of the evening. Even though one of our seven tellers cancelled last minute due to illness (and thus we lost Africa), we still had a pretty great lineup.
This is how it went down:

Round one: Family and Conflict
This round featured two myths about conflict in the families of deities. Hajós Erika told the Japanese story of Izanagi and Izanami, the former's trip to the underworld to get his wife back - and his escape from being pursued by the armies of the dead. Gregus László told the Irish myth of Balor of the Evil Eye being defeated by his own divine grandson, Lugh.
Voting question: If you needed help protecting your loved ones and your home, whom would you rather ask for that help?
The winner: Most people thought Lugh would be the more powerful ally.

Round two: Life and Death
We did not only have two great stories in this round, but also a new storyteller! Szabad Boglárka joined us for the first time, and told the Mesopotamian myth of Nergal and Ereshkigal with passion and a great sense of humor. Stenszky Cecília brought another, more lyrical love story about how Savitri won her husband back from Yama, the Hindu god of death.
Voting question: If you had to get a loved one back from the Underworld, which deity do you think would be easier to convince?
The winner: Most people thought they would have an easier time convincing Ereshkigal.

Round three: Water and Eels
Originally, it was just gonna be Water, but then we discovered that both our stories featured eels, and we ran with it. My own choice was a Venezuelan story about how the electric eel rebelled against Napa, the Creator, and how the war of the animals led to the creation of humans. My partner, Nagy Enikő, told the Samoan legend of Sina and Tuna, and how the first coconuts were created from the head of a love struck eel.
Voting question: If you were a female eel, which eel would you rather choose as a mate?
The winner: The electric eel is sexier.

The winners of each round received a small stress ball, painted as the globe with all its countries. The fourth, remaining ball went to the youngest member of our audience (12 years old), because we thought it was super cool that he convinced his parents to bring him to an adult myth event. You can't start early enough.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

#FolkloreThursday: Badass folk versions of the classic fairy tales you're bored of

This post was born at an intersection of two issues that keep coming up when the media latches onto the topic of fairy tales. One of them is people making sweeping statements about folktales based on a very narrow canon, such as "women are always passive princesses in fairy tales" (I have blogged about this before). The other is the ever-present question of representation - what can we do if we don't like the kissy part of Snow White, or Sleeping Beauty? (I have blogged about this too). 
Since these questions keep circling around, and since I have a lot of data on my hands from Following folktales around the world, today I wanted to bring you a selection of lesser known, more badass folk variants of the stories we all love and are bored of.

Here we go.

Demon hunter Sleeping Beauty
Jan Knappert: Aicha's tasks on earth (The World and I, 2002.)

Contrary to popular belief, the central motif of Sleeping Beauty is not the kiss at all - it is the moment when something stabs her finger, and she falls under enchantment. While this enchantment is most often sleep, there are notable exceptions to the rule - Aicha among them. Aicha, the hero of an Algerian folktale, defeats and burns an evil ghoul, but a single splinter of bone remains, and it gets under her skin. With the injury comes the curse: Aicha cannot stay in one place, she has to travel the world. Taking advantage of her constant wandering (as well as her skills as a swordsman and a geomancer), she goes from city to city, killing demons, sea monsters, werewolves, and the like. She eventually gets rid of her own curse, and becomes a queen.

Cat burglar Cinderella
Jack Zipes: Catarina the Wise (University of Chicago Press, 2017.)

The Sicilian folktale of The Little Date Tree is by far my favorite version of the Cinderella story. Locked into the house with her two boring sisters, Ninetta decides to climb down the well after a stray thimble. She accidentally discovers a portal that leads straight into the king's gardens - and she decides this is a good opportunity to rob him blind. After days of coming and going, and stealing fruit, flowers, and decorations, she is eventually noticed by the prince - who announces a ball with the sole purpose of catching the pretty yet mysterious thief. Ninetta shows up repeatedly, makes fun of the prince, and eventually drives a hard bargain, getting the king to make her her father's heir before asking for the prince's hand in marriage.

Wolf hunter Riding Hood
Dékány Rafael: A pityke és a kökény (Argumentum, 2004.)

In this Hungarian folktale, a little girl lives in a cave in the forest all alone. She lives in comfort through the summer, but when winter hits, wolves get hungrier as the weather gets colder, and finally one of them sniffs out her home. The girl, who is in the process of boiling lye for soap when the wolf appears, pours the whole cauldron of it on the hungry beast, scalding its fur off. Later the wolf returns with a whole pack for revenge. The girl climbs a tree to get away from them. In true cartoon fashion, the wolves stand on each other's shoulders to reach her, with the naked wolf at the bottom. When they get close enough, she screams "More boiling water!", and the naked one jumps out of the bottom of the pile. The girl has wolf furs to warm her for the rest of the winter.

Sorceress Rapunzel
Italo Calvino: Italian folktales (Mariner Books, 1992.)

Okay, so The Canary Prince is not technically the same folktale type as Rapunzel, but it does feature a girl locked in a tower. In this case, it happens to keep her out of the way of her evil stepmother. Looking out of the tower, she falls in love with a prince who is hunting in the woods, and thanks to a mysterious old woman, she acquires a book of magic. She learns how to turn the prince into a canary so that he can visit her, and how to turn him back. The stepmother eventually tries to sabotage the secret affair, and mortally wounds the prince. The girl is not deterred; she rescues herself from the tower, gains some knowledge from a group of witches in the woods, and goes off to save the prince.

Sister rescue from Bluebeard's castle
Clara Stroebe: The Danish Fairy Book (New York, 1922.)

Bluebeard is widely regarded as a cautionary tale about marrying a handsome stranger, and finding out that he has dead wives locked in his closet. In the eponymous version, the girl's brothers arrive just in time to get rid of the evil man and save their sisters. There is another tale type, however - such as the Danish tale of The Pig in the book above - which is essentially the same story, except here the youngest sister first helps her older sisters escape from the murder castle (usually by reviving them, and hiding them in luggage), and then she smuggles herself out as well. In a Hungarian variant, the evil man goes on to stalk her, until the Virgin Mary pops out of Heaven to tell him that he has no right to any woman. 

Cajun Snow White
W. B. McCarthy: Cinderella in America (University Press of Mississippi, 2007.)

Okay, so this one is more cute than badass, but here it is: In Snow Bella, the persecuted princess finds shelter in the house of two Dwarves and their adopted (human) younger brother. The evil queen tries to kill her three times; the first two she is saved by the youngest brother's quick thinking and keen eyes for detail. The poison apple thing goes the usual way, except there is no kiss: When they are taking her to be buried, one of the brothers stumbles with the coffin (probably because of the height difference), the apple bite dislodges from her throat, and she wakes up. In the end, she marries the youngest brother, because they have fallen in love over the years spent together. No questionable prince in sight. 

Moral of the story: Variants of folktales can differ a lot from each other, and there are some true gems out there for the telling. Have fun!

Monday, December 31, 2018

306 earworms in 2018

Am I the only one who wakes up with music in her head? This is not a rhetorical question: The people I have asked so far looked at me really weird. And yet I can't help it: Most mornings, when I wake up, there is a random song stuck in my ears. It sometimes sticks with me all morning; other times I listen to something else to chase it away. But whether I like it or not, there seems to be a radio alarm clock in my subconscious. This year, when I started my new bullet journal (don't judge), I decided to write down every morning what my intro song to the day was. And the results are in:

Between January 1st and December 31st in 2018, I woke up with a song in my head 306 times. Monthly, this means between 21 and 28 mornings, so the phenomenon is pretty consistent. July had the most such mornings (28), and February and May had the fewest (21). But this is not really about statistics - this is about the music.

I want to note up front that I have absolutely no control over what music I hum when I wake up. Sometimes it's a song I listened to the day before, but often it is something I have not heard for years, or something I never even liked. Sometimes I wake up with the same song three days in a row, other times I have to hum all morning before I realize where the tune is from. The list is long: There are 150 different songs on it, and while many of them popped up more than once, here are the top 5 most common:

 Top of the list (12 mornings):

Second place (11 mornings):

Also second place (11 mornings):

Third place (10 mornings):

Also third place (10 mornings):

+ My personal favorite to wake up to (7 mornings):

+ When I wake up as a feminist (also 7 mornings):

When I look at albums, the list is a little different: I had a large number of Hamilton songs (Alexander Hamilton 10, Satisfied 7, Wait for it 5), and most of the Moana soundtrack (We know the way 7, How far I'll go 6, Shiny 5, You're welcome 4), as well as a healthy dose of Renaissance dance music and Blackmore's Night (courtesy of my reenactment hobbies). On the other end of the spectrum I had quite a few WTF moments, but the negative record came from the opening of a soap opera that my grandmother used to watch religiously when I was little. The song, somehow embedded in my subconscious, resurfaced to ambush me one morning. Here you go:

I think I'm going to continue with this experiment in 2019, just for the fun of it (maybe my grandchildren will find it interesting one day). In the meantime, the question remains: Am I the only one with built in Spotify, or do others wake up like this too?...