Thursday, November 19, 2015

Folklore Thursday: Archangels have problems with bureaucracy

Today is Folklore Thursday on social media! If you want to find out more, follow this link, or click on the #FolkloreThursday hashtag on Twitter! Hosted by @FolkloreThursday.

Continuing the theme of the Peasant Bible, Hungarian folktales based on biblical themes. I think this week's selection says a lot about the Hungarian mentality concerning authority, rules, and commands...
(The most often used phrase is "we'll solve this smartly" which usually means bending the rules, going outside the rules, under the counter, through family connections, etc. This seems to be the principle Adam and Eve operate on, since they were clearly Hungarian. Duh.)
This story probably also has roots in the relationships between tenants and their landlords in the last century.

The Three Archangels

Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and God was furious. He commanded that they shall be exiled from the Garden of Eden forever. He summoned Archangel Gabriel, handed him a flaming stick, and ordered him to remove the couple from the premises.
Adam saw the archangel approaching, and panicked.

"The judgment of God is upon us! We will be exiled from the Garden!"

Eve looked up too.

"Don't fret, my love. He's Hungarian. We'll solve this smartly."

Eve quickly set about making lunch, and by the time Gabriel descended, he was greeted with a table loaded with delicacies. Eve offered him the best seat, fed him, poured him drinks, petted his hair, treated him like a beloved guest.
The archangel grew uncomfortable.

"This is not why I came" he protested "The Lord ordered me to exile you from Paradise immediately, for breaking his commandment."

"Come on now" Eve purred "Do you really have such a callous heart? We greeted you, we fed you we treated you well. Look at how content we are. Would you really ruin this perfect happiness?"

She talked and she talked, and finally Gabriel returned to Heaven without completing his mission.

"Is it done?" asked God.

"Oh, please Lord, don't punish me!" Gabriel pleaded "Those two are so happy and content together! They were like a pair of doves. I didn't have the heart to exile them."

God sighed.

"I see. I shall send somebody else."

He summoned a Romanian archangel, Peter, and ordered him to go and exile Adam and Eve from Paradise.
Adam saw Peter descending, and panicked again.

"The Lord is sending another archangel! What shall we do?!"

"Don't fret" Eve waved "I know exactly what to do."

Peter landed in the middle of the Garden, and Eve hurried to meet him.

"Good day, good day, Archangel Peter. What can we do for you today?"

"God commands that you leave the Garden immediately" he archangel told her "You have broken your promise, and you have no place in his Paradise anymore. He sent me to see you out."

Eve planted a hand on her hip.

"It that so? And where is the paper?"

"What paper?"

"Are you telling me you came here without a written order? How do I know you are telling the truth? We are not going anywhere until you bring written proof of God's will!"

The archangel, not sure how to argue with this request, returned to Heaven.

"Is it done?" asked God.

"No" admitted the angel "They won't leave without an order in writing. I didn't know what to do."

"That's enough" God rumbled "I will have to send Michael."

Archangel Michael, German by nationality, appeared immediately, and took the flaming stick from God's hand.

"Go and make sure Adam and Eve leave the Garden!"

Michael descended from the Heavens. Adam and Eve saw him coming. Eve immediately set about preparing a feast for him; when Michael arrived, she offered him the best seat, a choice of the best dishes, made sure his cup was always full. They spend a friendly dinner together, and Eve made sure she did everything in her power to bribe Michael into favoring them.
Once the dinner was over, Michael stood up from the table.

"Thank you for the meal. And now, please leave."

"Do we really have to?" Eve purred.

"Yes. The rules are rules. Vacate the premises immediately."

No matter what Adam and Eve offered to pay him off, Michael stayed adamant, and escorted the couple all the way to the gates of Eden.

Obviously, this folktale is not very PC. The original text makes fun of the angels' nationalities. But ever since the first time I read it, I always thought it was much better suited for making a point about Adam and Eve trying to wiggle out of God's orders, and trying to "solve things smartly," which was the national pastime of Hungarians in the Socialist era. So I left Eve's trickery in, and toned down the stereotypes. 

No comments:

Post a Comment