Thursday, December 3, 2015

Folklore Thursday: Beware of rainbows

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.

Heads up: My book, Tales of Superhuman Powers, is $3 on Kindle within the USA this week! It contains 55 folktales that feature superpowers such as invisibility, shape-shifting, super speed, or eye beams (yes, really). Each story comes with sources, notes, and a list of popular culture connections.


Taking a break from the Peasant Bible, I am going to spend the next few Folklore Thursday posts to talk about legends and beliefs concerning natural phenomena, and constellations. To start us off:

Here are some things you need to know about rainbows
(According to Hungarian folklore)

1. If on spring rainbows the green is very vivid, that means the harvest will be good that year. If the red is vivid, it means the wine will be good that year. Yellow means wind (or good wheat, in some places).

2. Rainbow in Hungarian is called "szivárvány." It originates from the verb "szívni" which means "to suck" (yes, we literally named this gorgeous, rare natural phenomenon "the sucker"). It is believed that the rainbow always ends in a body of water. It comes down to drink. Alternately, it works as a gigantic straw for a mythical being in the sky who wants to drink some water. The water eventually falls down again the form of rain.

3. Occasionally, the rainbow can suck up some unsuspecting creatures along with the water. For example, if frogs or fish fall from the sky during the storm, people will say that the rainbow sucked them up into the sky and then dropped them back down.
(Apparently the rainbow is vegan)
Cattle might also be in danger.

4. Every once in a while, a human person can also be hoovered up through a rainbow into the sky. There are stories about a shepherd girl who got transported to the Moon this way, and she has been there ever since.

5. In some places, rainbow was known as "the fairy ribbon" or "fairy cloth." Fairies had the power to spirit people away (especially children) into the sky, by having them sucked up through the rainbow. Some of these children would return after 7 years, with no memory of their time spent in the fairy realm.
(Yes, reports of UFO abductions are not all that original. Supernatural got the idea right.)

6. Legend says that if you pass under a rainbow, or if you drink from the body of water that the rainbow is drinking from, you will turn into the opposite sex (male to female, or vice versa). This can happen to animals and humans alike.

There is a Transylvanian story about a young girl who happened to be drawing water from the well a rainbow was drinking from - and after that she spent her life constantly changing, female for one month, and male for the next, back and forth. She eventually got married, but her husband divorced her after the first month. [While this is a short little snippet, I would love to do a more LGBT+ friendly reworking of it. Or see any other storyteller out there do the same.]

Think of all of this next time you see a rainbow. Approach at your own risk. Have fun.

1 comment:

  1. That Transylvanian story sounds intriguing. Folklore is so wide and varied.