Wednesday, April 11, 2018

J is for János and Rózsa (WTF Hungary - Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales)

Welcome to this year's A to Z Challenge titled WTF Hungary - Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales! You can find all other participating blogs on the A to Z Challenge main blog.

This tale of the adventures of two extraordinary brothers comes from a book of Transylvanian Roma folktales, collected by Nagy Olga. The storyteller was a 52 year old man named Dávid Gyula. I included half of the story, the adventures of the younger brother János, in my book of Tales of Superhuman Powers, under Superhuman Strength; but that is not the only remarkable part of that story. Here are some others:

1. Rózsa (Rose, yes, but here it's a man's name) sets out to work as a swineherd to support his old father. He trains the king's (talking) pigs to march in order, and give reports in the morning before they head out to the fields to exercise. Military training for pigs.

2. Rózsa also rides the talking magic pig when he goes off on his adventures. The pig is secretly a wizard.

3. When János sets out on his own adventure, he ends up at the Red King's Tavern. There he orders light breakfast: A two year old cow, and approximately 1500 gallons of wine. And some sides.

4. János soon makes friends at the tavern: The Iron Knight, the Son of the Wind, Son of the Sun, and the Son of the Golden King. At this point, the story is beginning to sound like the opening of a D&D campaign.

5. In true D&D fashion, soon enemies show up at the tavern: Three devils, and also the Bone Knight, the Mold Knight, and the Wooden Knight. The kill the devils first with one slap each (apparently the devils are the Redshirts in this story), and then all the heroes except János.

6. In the middle of all this, János goes out back to pee, and pees enough to threaten the whole town with a flood. Just because.

7. Eventually János grows tired of the antics of the bad guys. He creates a steel dome over the tavern (so that they can't escape), and commences to beat them up. They eventually are forced to revive everyone (even the devils), and then János tosses them all the way back home to their mothers.

8. When János visits the Golden King, the king tries to get his two daughters to seduce the hero. However, János pulls up the same steel dome around his bedroom, and the princesses can't get in. Steel dome means no.

9. János rescues a princess his friend, the Son of the Golden King, is in love with. She also has superhuman strength, and he has to defeat her first, before she lest him rescue her from a witch.

The story goes on for a long time, and it is full of fascinating details. Eventually, both János and Rózsa marry enchanted bird (duck)-princesses, and live happily ever after.

Some folktales are more complex than others.


  1. I do like a pig that can keep a secret...and ducks of noble lineage too..fascinating where tales can take one!

  2. I wasn't a bit surprised when I read:"pees enough to threaten the whole town with a flood." What do you expect after drinking 1500 gallons of wine? Did his tiny appetite have anything to do with his choice of (duck princess) bride?
    I'm glad there's a happy ever after for Janos after all that food and fighting.
    J is for Jam

  3. I don't think I've ever seen a more complex tale. I might have to look into this one further!

    Just Walk Away by Celine Dion

  4. It's the details like (talking) pigs and bird (duck) princesses that make these tales charming and bonkers at the same time. They don't write stories like this anymore!

  5. I'm still trying to grasp the tale. Seriously WTF indeed. But you gotta love the appetites of the heroes in these tales. I've read Russian folk tales in which the third son (usually) eats huge amounts of food that was set as a challenge to him before (you guessed it) marrying the princess.

    PS: The part about him pee-flooding the town was downright hilarious.

  6. My favorite villain is the Mold Knight. Seriously, that guy is insidious and evil!

  7. Definitely a complicated story! And just a bit vulgar, with the peeing and the huge appetites! But folk tales are like that, aren't they? I can't help thinking of the Norse myth in which Thor has an eating competition with a giant who turns out to be a disguised flame - you can't eat faster than fire!

    J Is For Jennings...

  8. Tosses them back to their mothers?!! LOL - that is awesome.
    Tasha's Thinkings - Movie Monsters

  9. LOL - clearly there's enough here to satisfy every sort of whim. I'm not entirely sure I want to meet Mold Knight or marching pigs, but duck princesses sound enchanting. :-)

  10. I don't think I would want to meet any of these characters, but I'm not liable to unless I zap into a folk tale. That would be disturbing.

  11. That tale has a lot of twists and turns, and some very colorful characters!

  12. That sounds fascinating, and a little like some D&D games I've been a part of, actually... ;) Loving your series, even tho I'm bad at keeping up!
    Jamie Lyn Weigt | Theme: Odds and Ends Dragons | Writing Dragons