Thursday, April 25, 2024

V is for Vampire lover (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.

THE TROPE

Come on, you know this one.

THE FOLKLORE

The other option for V was Virginity, and I am not touching that because folklore does not handle it well. And honestly, sexy and hot vampire lovers are not all that common in folklore either, contrary to popular belief. What I do have, however, are some stories that are amusing in the context of vampire romances.

THE STORIES

The snowman husband (Algonquin folktale)

A haughty maiden rejects a suitor and mocks him, so he decides to take revenge. He makes a handsome warrior out of snow and sends him to her village. She falls desperately in love with the pale and cool warrior and marries him. When they set out on a journey, she notices he is behaving strangely: he hides from the sun, keeps away from fire, and doesn't eat human food. Eventually, he melts.

This story always reminded me of this meme.

The tortoise husband (Italian folktale)

The original title is "The man who came only at night", which makes it more amusing. It's about sisters being courted by a mysterious man who only ever appears at night. Two of them refuse, but the youngest agrees to marry him - only to find out that she turns into a tortoise during the daytime. 

I always imagined it would make a fun story for a modern-day girl to expect a brooding hot vampire husband, and then boom, tortoise.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

U is for Unrequited love (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.

THE TROPE

Where there is romance, there is usually unrequited love (that sometimes goes beyond the bounds of what is acceptable). It's either part of a love triangle, or exists by itself.

THE FOLKLORE

Folklore is full of love stories that don't end well, and feelings that are not returned. But honestly, a lot of these come from villains, or other unsavory characters - or, in a lot of cases, the scorned lover ends up dead.

THE STORIES

Ivar Ingimundarsson (Icelandic legend)

A talented young musician from Iceland travels to the royal court of Norway, leaving a girl he fancies behind. He promises to return to marry her. From Norway, he sends his brother to her with a message - but the brother decides to marry her instead. When Ivar finds out, he sinks into deep depression. His friend the king tries to cheer him up in all kinds of ways - but in the end, patient listening is what does the trick.

Girolles and Agathe (French romance)

I like this medieval story because in the end, the scorned suitor graciously accepts his defeat. It's about a squire in love with a lady, but her father doesn't approve of the match. When she is to be married to someone else, both suitors show up, and the squire prepares a set of riddles to win the lady. In the end, the lovers are united, and the other gentleman concludes a woman who doesn't love him would not have been a good match anyway.

The minaret of Mausum Shah (Legend from Pakistan)

A Muslim man falls in love with a Hindu woman, but she doesn't like him, and neither of them is willing to convert anyway. Still, he keeps on courting her. Finally she demands that he builds a minaret to prove his love for her. He does so, but when he fulfills his promise, she still refuses him, and mockingly tells him to jump off the tower. He does - but a divine hand catches him and saves his life. Realizing his love was misguided, he becomes an anchorite, and leads a holy life.

There are also versions of the legend of the Lady of Stavoren where she sends out a lovestruck suitor to bring her the most precious thing in the world. When he brings grain, and she mocks him, he realized his mistake, and leaves her for good.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

T is for The Two-person Love Triangle (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.

THE TROPE

This is a fun one: it's a trope about a person who thinks they are in a love triangle, only to find out that the two love interests were one and the same person all along.

THE FOLKLORE

As surprising as it is, this one exists in folklore. Mostly because there are so many cases of concealed identites.

THE STORIES

Lady Béla (Hungarian folktale)

This one is about a girl who is raised by her father pretending to be a set of twins: a feisty and strong warrior woman, and a kind and gentle maiden. In her kind form, she falls in love with a shepherd. When her castle is attacked, he joines the guard, and she tries to seduce him in her warrior-woman persona, but he stays loyal to his beloved. In the end, it is revealed she is both.

Procris and Cephalus (Greek myth)

This one is a pretty complex tit-for-tat fake adultery story. The goddess Eos wants to seduce the hunter Cephalus, but he wants to stay faithful to his wife Procris. Eos wants to prove Procris is not worth the trouble, and changes Cephalus' appearance so he can try to seduce his own wife. He succeeds (with a large sum of money) so he exiles Procris in disgust. After some adventures, Procris returns in the guise of a young hunter, and in that form, she seduces her husband (again, for a valuable gift). When they get down to business, she reveals herself, calling her husband out on his hypocrisy. They do make up, but in the end, Cephalus tragically and accidentally kills her.

The tailor's daughter (Folktale from Iraq)

A tailor's clever daughter outwits a sultan, so he decides to marry her, and then promptly forgets about her. When he goes on journeys abroad, she always sneaks after him in disguise, and seduces him three different times, giving birth to three children. When the sultan decides to marry someone else, she sows up at the wedding with the children, and the reveals that she had managed to seduce her own husband three times as three different people.

(This story type exists in many places - I have seen versions from Azerbaijan, from Israel, and also from Sicily, the latter a very intriguing variant from this book where the heroine, Catarina the Wise, escapes jail three times to seduce her husband.) (Sadly, I don't much love this tale type, because the husband is always a jerk.)

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Monday, April 22, 2024

S is for Serenade (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.

THE TROPE

Serenading the one you love is an age-old form of courtship.

THE FOLKLORE

Serenading the one you love is an age-old form of courtship.

THE STORIES

Sadko (Russian folktale)

This story exists in a lot of versions, but Arthur Ransome's retelling is more romantic than the others. Sadko is a musician who loves to admire the Volkhov river, playing music and serenading her like a lover. He wins the favor of the Tsar of the Sea, and visits him in his underwater realm. There he gets to meet his beloved river in the form of a princess.

Lautenthal (Legend from the Harz Mountains)

A rich girl is rescued in the mountains by a young hunter, and they fall in love. She sneaks out into the forest to play her lute, and he always finds her following her music. When she is to be married to someone else, they meet once more, and listening to her love songs, he hears an echo. They discover a cave full of silver - he becomes rich, and they can marry.

Hinemoa and Tutanekai (Maori legend)

Probably the most famous Maori love story, about a girl who bravely swims across the lake, following the sound of the beloved's music.

The Ginkgo Fairy (Chinese folktale)

A young coalmaker falls in love with a mysterious young woman in the mountains who echoes all his songs. Eventually they meet and marry - and she turns out to be the spirit of a ginkgo tree.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Saturday, April 20, 2024

R is for Reincarnation romance (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.

THE TROPE

This trope features a pair of lovers that are reborn (sometimes over and over again) and always find each other. The idea is that they are meant for each other over several lifetimes.

THE FOLKLORE

In cultures where reincarnation is part of the belief system, stories like this do exist.

THE STORIES

The quiet girl (Tibetan folktale)

Three men court a girl, but she refuses the first two, and seems uninterested in marriage. When the youngest man meets an old woman on his way to visit the girl, the woman tells him her secret. The girl has been reborn again and again, alongside her husband, in the form of various animals, but their families always died in tragedy. Armed with this knowledge, the young man manages to win her heart. It is left up to interpretation whether he is actually her husband reborn again, but they do live happily.

The weaverbird princess (Thai folktale)

A variant of the previous story. A weaverbird couple loses their chicks, and the wife blames the husband. In their next lives they are reborn as humans. The wife is a princess who is promised to marry whomever can make her talk. Her husband shows up as a prince and manages to make her talk with his stories. Later, an evil mentor steals the prince's body and puts his own soul into it, but the couple maganes to find a way to set things right.

There is also a Hmong version of this same story, except in that one the husband is actually to blame. Also, the couple goes through a series of missed opportunities when they are not reborn in compatible bodies.

Midir and Étaín (Irish legend)

Probably the most famous reincarnation romance in Europe. When Midir (an immortal Sidhe prince) sets his first wife apart for Étaín, the ex-wife curses the woman to be turned into a fly and blown away by the wind. Étaín eventually lands in the cup of a chief's wife, and swallowed. The wife then gives birth to a girl, who is Étaín reborn. When she grows up, she is married to a king, but Midir manages to find her and win her back.

Indra as a cat (Legend from India)

At a wild party in the heavens Indra offens a visiting Brahman, and the Brahman curses him to die and be reborn as a cat in a hunter's house. His wife searches for him, and manages to convince the Brahman to tell her where her husband is. When she finds him, she prays to the goddess Káliká, who agrees to ease the curse: she puts cat-husband and wife to a deep sleep until the term of the 12-year rebirth is over. (Very Sleeping Beauty. But who wouldn't want a 12-year nap with their cat?)

Reincarnation also features into the famous love story of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Friday, April 19, 2024

Q is for Queen and Soldier (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.

THE TROPE

So this one is a general type of romance where a soldier/guard/someone who serves royalty falls in love with the royal lady high above their station. That they are supposed to protect, more often than not.

THE FOLKLORE

Once again, this one is by far not unheard of in folklore (sue me). Soldiers, especially veteran soldiers often end up making their fortune in folktales, and that sometimes involves winning a princess. However, I went looking for a queen instead, and those were not as common. Still, I get to include one of my favorite folktales, so here we go.

THE STORIES

The green dragoon (Hungarian folktale)

A widow queen who rules a country marches her army to war. One dragoon steps out of line to relieve himself, and accidentally gets trapped in an enchanted forest. By the time he is free, the war is over, the queen lost, and she has been trapped inside a cursed castle for 77 years. The soldier decides to go and save her, and he puts up with three nights of horrible hauntings to break the curse.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Thursday, April 18, 2024

P is for Post-fight Patch-up (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.

THE TROPE

This trope refers to scenes where someone is injured, and their (prospective) romantic interest gently tends to their wounds. It shows care and intimacy. Big strong men who take bullets witout slowing down usually hiss and fuss, because it shows vulnerability. You know this trope.

THE FOLKLORE

I had some obvious choices for this one, but it was still fun to do more digging.

THE STORIES

Diarmuid and Gráinne (Irish legend)

I promised we would get to these two, right? Can't miss one of the great love stories of tradition. Gotta admit, my favorite part of this entire runaway-bride epic is the part where they finally get together. Long story short: Irish princess Gráinne escapes her own wedding to legendary hero Fionn Mac Cumhail by putting a much younger and more handsome hero, Diarmuid, under a magic obligation to elope with her. Fionn and his men hunt them high and low, and for a long time, Diarmuid holds out, not touching the woman that made him break his loyalty to Fionn. He always leaves unbroken bread behind to signal he has not slept with her. One stormy night, they seek shelter in a cave and get into a quarrel, at the end of which Gráinne stabs Diarmuid in the leg. He runs out into the rain, and she looks for him all night. They finally meet, make up, confess their love, and she takes the knife out of his leg. 

After that, there is no unbroken break left behind anymore.

Ilbrec of Ess Ruadh (Irish legend)

This one concerns another hero of the Fianna, Caoilte the Swift. He gets injured in battle, hit in the thigh with a poisoned spear. He goes in search of healing to the Sidhe hill where his foster-brother lives. He is seeking Bebind, a famous healing woman. He has to complete various battle quests to pay for the healing. Bebind works on his wound over the course of several days until he is healthy again. There are versions of this legend where they also become lovers by the end. (One is expertly told by Daniel Allison in this book.)

Guigemar (Medieval romance)

This 12th century romantic tale, based in folklore and written by Marie de France, starts a hero who knows nothing about love. Which is a problem, because he gets hurt in a hunting accident, and a deer tells him his wound can only be cured by his true love. He sets out to find love, and ends up in the castle of an old man who jealously keeps his beautiful wife locked up. With the help of servants, Guigemar meets the lady, and - predictably - they fall in love as she tends his wound. When the husband finds out they are torn apart, but fate brings them together again in the end. 

(Note that Tristan and Iseult also meet when he is seeking help to cure his poisoned wound.)

Dietwart and Minne (German legend)

Roman emperor Dietwart is looking for a wife, and he ends up in Westernmer to court King Ladmer's daugher Minne. She refuses to say yes to him until she gets to know him better; and despite his protests that women shouldn't hunt, she joins the hunt organized in his honor. She turns out to be quite the accomplished "mighty huntress". However, when she scares up a dragon, she almost dies - util Dietwart arrives to save her and kill the beast. He is seriously wounded in the fight. He is between life and death, but Minne slowly nurses him back to health with a magic ointment. When he regains his wits, he finds out she got the ointment from her mother - only to be used on someone she loves. That's one hell of a confession. 

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

O is for Only one bed (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.


THE TROPE

If there is a "most often quoted" romance trope, THERE IS ONLY ONE BED would probably be it. Also known by the more general term of "forced proximity", it is a trope where the prospective lovers just have to share a bed for a night. For... purely logistical purposes. Sometimes it's a closet, or some other enclosed space, but the results is the same: a whole lot of tension.

THE FOLKLORE

This one is tricky from a folklore perspective, because folktales either tend to be somewhat conservative about unmarried people sharing a bed - or get straight down to business. There is also an entire related trope with a sword placed between people when they share a bed, as a show of chastity. (You can read a study of this motif in Tristan and Iseult here.) But there are some tale types where a shared bed plays an important role between people who are in love, or trying to be.

THE STORIES

Oh wall, my wall (Judeo-Spanish folktale)

A rich (but shy) young man refuses to get married, and he turns down all brides proposed to him. Finally a wise old woman suggests three poor sisters who might be fitting for him. The two elder, when they visit him and they share a bed for the night, are scared because he places a sword between them. The youngest girl, however, stays. When the boy refuses to talk to her, she pretends to talk to the wall - and he answers, doing the same. They slowly grow to like each other. When she helps a poor child, he finally speaks to her, won over by her gentleness. When her evil stepmother tries to kill her, her husband saves her.

The Daughter of the King Under the Waves (Scottish folktale)

This story features the legendary warriors of the Fianna. One stormy night a hideous hag knocks on their door and begs to be let in (in other versions, it's their hunting tents). Each hero refuses her in turn, except for Diarmuid (who is a great favorite with women anyway). He lets her in and shares his bed with her. Of course she turns into the most beautiful woman ever seen. She promises to stay with him as long as he doesn't mention in what state he found her. Obviously, he eventually breaks his promise. The story goes on, but in the end, he saves her, but they don't marry.

Alessandro and the abbott (Decameron)

This story is from the Decameron, which does use a lot of folktale motifs and elements. A young Italian man, down on his luck, is on his way home to Tuscany when he joins the retinue of a young abbott on the road. The abbott (headed to Rome) takes a liking to him, so Alessandro agrees to accompany them at least to Florence. However, one night at an inn there is no bed left for Alessandro, so the innkeeper lodges him in the abbot's room. At night, the abbott makes advances at Alessandro... and soon reveals that she is actually a princess in disguise, fleeing from an unwanted marriage. They go to the Pope together, and win his consent to marry.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

N is for Next Door Neighbors (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.


THE TROPE

This trope features neighbors who fall in love with each other, or one person who has a crush on their neighbor. It often overlaps with the extremely popular Girl Next Door character type, who is always lovely, friendly, and unassuming. (There are also Boys Next Door, obviously.)

THE FOLKLORE

Living next door to someone can be a good setup for any romance - folklore included. Sometimes in more ways than one.

THE STORIES

Yunus and the well of sweetness (Arab folktale)

I find this story quite amusing. A man named Yunus falls in love with the girl next door, and asks for her hand in marriage. Her father, however, claims that his daughter is a terrible shrew, and asks Yunus to bring water from the Well of Sweetness to make her more agreeable. He goes through an epic quest and succeeds in fetching the magic water - only to find out that it was needed not for the girl, but for her mother...

The two dreams (Armenian folktale)

Two versions of this story were collected from mother and daughter in the USA, but it exists in other versions too (ATU 1419E). A man falls in love with the beautiful wife of a very jealous husband who keeps her locked up. He builds a house next to theirs, and secretly digs a tunnel to her rooms. They keep meeting, and the woman pretends to be her own twin sister whenever the husband sees them. Finally the husband is tricked into marrying off his own wife to her lover, thinking it's the twin... and the lovers escape together.

The boy carried away to the world below (Greek folktale)

A poor boy loves to read, and sits in the window of his house every day, absorbed in a book. Across the street is the king's palace, and the princess - who also loves to read - notices the boy in the window. They fall in love, and she insists on marrying him. However, a jealus courtier curses the boy, who ends up in the Underworld - and it takes time and determination for him to return to his beloved.

The mouse and the dung beetle (Folktale from Colorado)

Alright, this one is questionable, but nonetheless amusing. A poor girl is in love with the rich boy next door, but his parents engage him to marry someone else. The desperate girl keeps praying to St. Anthony, and when it doesn't work, she chases the saint's statue around the room, threatening him. Eventually, Anthony grants her a mouse and a dung beetle - which she uses to turn the newlyweds against each other. Once their marriage is broken, St. Anthony makes an appearance, telling the boy he should have chosen the girl who is the best match for him, not the wealthiest one.

The clog-maker and the king's daughter (French folktale)

A cheerful and handsome young man makes a living from carving wooden clogs. He is in love with the girl next door, Guillemette. For his kindness to a mysterious beggar woman, he earns a magic peach tree that grows peaches in the winter. The king wants to reward him for the unseasonal fruit with the hand of his daughter - but even though the young man fulfills all tasks, in the end, he refuses the princess, and goes home to his beloved Guillemette.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Monday, April 15, 2024

M is for Makeovers (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.

THE TROPE

Another enduring and very popular trope that has been the staple of romcom movies for decades. It features a drab or unattractive character (usually a girl) who goes unnoticed by the romantic interest until she is given a serious makeover: new hair, new makeup, new clothes, and suddenly she turns out to be very pretty indeed. We can argue about how valid or cringe this trope actually is (I am still not on board with this one), but it does happen quite a lot.

THE FOLKLORE

Yeah yeah, Cinderella is the most obvious choice. I wanted to venture a bit beyond that, though.

THE STORIES

Tattercoats (English folktale)

A rich lord has a granddaughter who dies in childbirth. In his grief, the lord abandons his granddaughter, who grows up dirty and neglected. Her only friend is the royal gooseherd. When news arrive what the king's son is set to choose a wife, the girl wants to go see the event. She sets out on foot, along with the gooseherd. As they walk, they are joined by a mysterous traveller, who soon falls for the girl. Of course the traveller is the prince himself, and when the ball starts, he declares that he wants the goose girl as a wife. In that moment, the gooseherd plays his flute, and the girl transforms into a shining princess in front of everyone's eyes. I like this tale because girl and prince fall in love before she actually turns pretty(er).

Tatterhood (Norwegian folktale)

A queen has twin daughters, one who is shy and pretty, and one who is born riding a goat, brandishing a wooden spoon, and looking terribly ugly. When witches curse the shy sister with a calf's head. Tatterhood doesn't let the thing stand, and sets out with her sister to break the curse. She fights a bunch of witches, and steals her sister's head back. Soon after, a king proposes to the pretty sister, but she insists that the prince should marry Tatterhood at the same time. On their way to the wedding, Tatterhood gradually transforms (on her own) from ragged girl to shining princess.

János Carnation-hair (Hungarian folktale)

You know the part in makeover movies where someone suffers from all the waxing and hair plucking and whatnot? Well, this story is worse. In it, a boy is given to his fairy godmother to be raised into a hero. She takes him to her underwater castle - where she cuts him into pieces and throws him in a tub. After three days she revives him, and he is bigger and stronger and more beautiful than before. She cuts him up again, and repeats the process three more times before he is ready to venture out and seek his fortune. (Read the Hungarian text here)

Sir Goldenhair (French-Canadian folktale)

This one is a version of tale type ATU 314 (Goldener). This type usually features a golden-haired hero who disguises himself with a wig and works as a gardener in a king's court. When no one sees him, he puts on various shining suits of armor (in this case white, red, and black) and rides out to go to church / court the princess / join the king in battle. In the end, his identity is revealed, but the crafty princess usually notices way before anybody else. 

There is also a lovely Hungarian version where the hero travels to the Islands of the Dawn in the far west, and washes himself in a magic spring which turns his hair golden and his face radiantly beautiful.

The glimmering bird (Latvian folktale)

This one is also a common boy-makeover tale type: ATU 530 (Princess on the Glass Mountain). I especially like this version. In it a king captures a glimmering bird that keeps visiting his gardens. The bird turns out to be a small man, dressed in diamonds a glimmering feathers and other fancy things. The king's son feels sorry for the captive, befriends him, and sets him free. The small man takes the prince to his undergorund realm, and raises him. When the time comes to win a princess, the small man dresses the prince in diamonds too, so he can dazzle everyone. But after he wins the princess, he disguises himself as a vagabond, and serves in the king's court for a year, only revealing himself after. (I enjoy this version for the visuality of the glimmering dress and the underground realm. I like the "fairy godmother" role being filled by a flamboyant Dwarven king.)

In the Russian version of the same type, the hero Ivan the Fool inherits a magic horse from his father. Whent he time comes to win a princess, he transforms himself into a shining knight by crawling into one ear of the horse, and crawling out the other...

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Saturday, April 13, 2024

L is for Lap Pillow (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.

THE TROPE

"Lap pillow" is the term used for a moment where one person lays down, resting their head on the other person's lap. It usually means a soft, intimate moment of care and proximity. Often used as a "ship tease", a scene foretelling the future romantic entanglement of the two people.

THE FOLKLORE

Okay, I picked this one because it is actually a lot more prominent in folklore than popular romance. The reason being - according to folklorists - that in traditional tales it is a metaphor for actual sex. Often described as "de-lousing" or "looking into one's head", it is a symbol of intimacy that could not always be outright stated in stories. It is also often used as a ploy to lull a monster to sleep, but I am skipping those for the purposes of this post. (Hungarian article on this motif here.)

THE STORIES

The enchanted forest (Slovakian folktale)

This one is a version of the very common tale type ATU 303 (The Twins). It has two identical heroes who separate when they go out to seek their fortune. They are accompanied by wild animals they have tamed - a bear, a lion, and a wolf each. One hero kills a dragon and saves a princess, but after the fight he falls asleep with his head on the princess' lap after they exchange rings. While he sleeps, an evil man kills him and threatens the princess to pretend he was the hero who killed the dragon. The real hero is revived by his faithful animals, unmasks the pretender, and wins the princess. Later on, he wanders into an enchanted forest and is turned to stone by a witch. Luckily, his twin shows up and breaks the enchantment. (I like the Slovakian version because the animals have their own personalities, and are revealed to be cursed princes at the end.)

There is also a Newfoundland version where the hero is Jack, and he falls asleep on the princess' lap even as the dragon is approaching.

The golden-haired gardener (Hungarian folktale)

This is a long and elaborate version of the tale type ATU 314 (Goldener). The hero has golden hair and unearthly beauty, but he hides it and disguises himself as a poor gardener in the king's palace. However, the king's youngest daughter notices his golden hair peeking out, and starts visiting him in secret. They fall in love. One day she spies him combing his hair, and she approaches, taking the comb from his hand. He lays his head on her lap and she combs him - after which they confess their love and decide to be married. It is a surprisingly delicate and lovely scene.

The fisherman's son (Hungarian folktale)

A fisherman's son is unwittingly promised to a river demon at birth, but manages to escape. He encounters an enchanted princess and saves her, after which they get married. When the husband is summoned by a kind, she warns him not to brag about her - which he obviously does, summoning her to show her off at court. She leaves him for his indiscretion, but before she goes, he asks to lay his head on her lap one last time. When he falls asleep, she leaves - and he has to go on a long and epic journey to win her back.

This scene is very similar to that in the Norwegian tale of the Soria Moria Castle.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Friday, April 12, 2024

K is for Kidnapping (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.

THE TROPE

As far as romance tropes go, this is definitely a problematic one, and yet it is common. It deals with someone (usually a woman) falling in love with their kidnapper. Depending on how the story unfolds, it can be romantic, or downright creepy.

THE FOLKLORE

Women falling for their kidnappers is actually not an unusual occurrence in folklore. There are multiple folktale types that usually end this way. Sometimes it is less outright kidnapping and more "fulfilling the task and winning the woman to be gifted to someone else", but the woman still usually has no say in it.

THE STORIES

The fox (Scottish Traveller folktale)

This story features a prince named Brian who falls in love with a servant girl, and his father sends him on a series of errands. He befriends a clever (and magical) fox, who helps him every time he messes up. One of his tasks is to kidnap the well-guarded Sun Goddess to be handed over to a bunch of giants. However, they take a liking to each other, so the fox helps them both get away and get married in the end (servant girl forgotten). 

The same tale type is better known in the Russian version of Tsarevits Ivan, the Firebird and the Grey Wolf. Here, the princess is frightened when kidnapped, but soon takes a liking to the hero.

Brave Rózsa (Hungarian Roma folktale)

A princess puts on men's clothes and sets out on a quest to regain her father's long-lost magic sword. She makes a deal with the knight that keeps the sword that she will deliver him the Fairy Queen in exchange. However, as she fulfills extra quests to win her, the queen falls in love with her, and eventually finds a way to marry the young kidnapper instead. (Also, due to a spell, the princess turns into a prince. In certain versions it is stated from the get-go that the hero prefers men's clothes.)

The son of the hunter (Greek folktale)

The son of a hunter is set impossible tasks by a king and his scheming vizier. One of them deals with bringing him a princess for a wife. The hero befriends a bunch of people with magic powers on the way, and wins the princess. By the time she is delivered to the king, she knows she wants to marry the young hero instead, so she turns king and vizier into a cat and a mouse.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Thursday, April 11, 2024

J is for Jilted Grooms (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.

THE TROPE

Also known as "Runaway Bride", this is a trope where a woman bails out of her wedding the last minute, to go be with the person she always wanted to be with. Ideally, this is a romantic revelation of true feelings. Not great for the groom, though. It also happens the other way around, occasionally, although it seems to be less common (or romanticized). Maybe it's the dramatically flowing dress that makes a difference.

THE FOLKLORE

In folklore, women do run away from their wedding sometimes. So do grooms, usually when their original bride makes an appearance again. I blogged about runaway brides in folklore before in my StorySpotting series, so I'm not reiterating all of it here. Also, Diarmuid and Gráinne are an obvious choice, but I'll deal with those two later.

THE STORIES

The dream lovers

This story was recorded by Athenaeus, allegedly from sources in Media and Scythia. A princess and a prince see each other in their dreams and fall in love. However, the princess' father wants to choose a husband for her from his own household, not a foreigner. He announces the day of the wedding, and she is supposed to choose her husband by handing them a bowl of wine. However, she manages to get a message to her dream-lover in secret, and he makes an epic journey to arrive in time. While everyone is waiting for her to mix the wine, she slips away from the wedding, and runs away with her lover.

The legend of the Rosstrappe (Legend from the Harz Mountains)

The beautiful princess Brünhilda is promised to a giant by her father. She comes up with a plan of escape: she secretly learns to ride one of the giant's terrible horses, and escapes on horseback the night before the wedding, riding to reach the castle of the prince she loves. The giant pursues her, but when she jumps the horse across a wide valley, the giant can't follow her, and he crashes to his death.

How the princess found her husband (Kashmiri folktale)

A princess flees her wedding to be with the princes she actually likes, but in te darkness of night they are separated, and she accidentally elopes with a robber. When she finds out she takes a horse and rides to freedom. Then she comes across a goldsmith who also tries to marry her, so she flees a second wedding (with the gold). She dresses as a man, becomes a king, and eventually manages to reunite with her beloved.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

I is for Interrupted Intimacy (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.

THE TROPE

Interrupted intimacy is a trope where a couple is about to get intimate (whether making out or having full on sex) but their activities are interrupted by someone walking in, or some unexpected event. It is often used to draw out tension between two characters even when they have already admitted their attraction.

THE FOLKLORE

I thought this was a fun one to look into, because it is usually played in folklore as a joke, or as just punishment for adultery. 

THE STORIES

The unfortunate lovers (Persian tale)

This story is from Nizami's Seven Wise Princesses, a collection of tales embedded in a frame story. A young man spies a group of pretty maidens having a party in a garden he owns. He falls in love with one of them, but whenever they spend time together, and get close to kissing, something unexpected happens: the balcony collapses, a cat falls on them from a tree, foxes run over them, sudden noises startle them, etc. Eventually they realize that these signs mean they should marry before they get down to kissing.

The devil guards wife's chastity

This one, hilariously, is an entire folktale type (ATU 1352). A man, going on a journey, commends his wife's chastity to the devil. Obviously, she has many lovers lined up to visit - but to everyone's surprise, the devil takes his job seriously, and keeps interrupting the secret meetings to scare the suitors away. In the end, he gives up, saying the job is too exhausting.

The Emperor's Dream (Welsh legend)

The Roman Emperor has a dream where he travels far away north, and encounters a beautiful princess. In his dream she is happy to greet him, but when they almost kiss, the dream suddenly ends. He wakes up, and immediately sends messengers to find her. She turns out to be a real person, and as soon as she is found, the Emperor marries her.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

H is for Hidden Identity (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.

THE TROPE

This trope deals with one or both parties hiding something about themselves. Often it can be the fact that someone is actually rich / famous / royal, but other secrets can also come to light, adding tension and revelation to the plot.

THE FOLKLORE

This one is very, very common in folklore. Think gods disguising themselves to court mortals. Think princes and princesses in disguise. There is a lot of material out there - so I got to cherry pick some stories I think work best as romances.

THE STORIES

Box With Wings (Greek folktale)

This is a Tracian version of a very common folktale type, ATU 510B (All-kinds-of-fur). In it, a girl flees from an unwanted marriage (usually from her father, but in this case, an old suitor), and disugises herself in some hideous form. I like this Greek version because she literally locks herself into a wooden box with her head poking out, grows wings, and takes service at the palace under the name Box With Wings. However, she goes to church on Sundays dressed in beautiful dresses and leaves the box behind, so the prince falls in love with her. When he tries to pursue her after mass (á la Cinderella), she throws sand in his face and steals his ring. Later, she uses the ring to prove she was the mysterious lady. I love this reverse take on the Cinderella / All-kinds-of-fur trope.

Sing Sing Yangdonma (Folktale from Bhutan)

A girl is forced to marry a monster (after it finds out her secret name). Once in the monster's household, she manages to free not only herself, but also the hundreds of captives the monster has been preparing to eat. One of the captives is an old woman on her deathbed; she gives her skin to the girl. The girl disguises herself as an old woman, and manages to get away from the monster for good. Later on, she uses the skin to test three princes, to see which one of them is actually kind and caring towards the old and the weak, and that is how she finds herself a good husband.

The beautiful Englishwoman (Italian folktale)

Not a full disguise but an amusing story anyway: A woman paints a picture of a perfect man and insists that she will only marry that man. Eventually one guy shows up and he looks just like the picture - minus one green tooth. She is ready to show him the door, but he points out she is not perfect either - and they fall in love. Sadly, the story has a tragic ending, because her father doesn't approve of the marriage.

Queen of the Tinkers (Irish folktale)

Another folktale type that revolves around disguise is ATU 900 (King Thrushbeard). In it, a princess refuses to marry a rich suitor, so her father forces her to marry a beggar instead. The beggar, of course, turns out to be the jilted suitor. I don't like most variants of this tale, because the husband is often curel and humiliating towards the wife to "teach her a lesson". However, this Irish version is pretty fun. The princess refuses to marry a prince she has never seen and doesn't love. Instead, she marries "the king of the Tinkers" of her own free choice, and they fall in love. In the end, of course, he turns out to be the prince - but only after she has a chance to changer her mind, and she refuses.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Monday, April 8, 2024

G is for Gentle Giants (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.

THE TROPE

Gentle giants are "strong and silent" type romantic heroes, who, despite their physical size and strength, turn out to be kind and loving. Think "big softie" for romance.

THE FOLKLORE

I decided to look into tales where giants fall in love (and not in a creepy, kidnapping-princesses way), or particularly strong and big characters prove to be kind and loving. I also didn't want the stories to end bady, this is a romance challenge, after all. (You can read about less idealistic giant-princess relationships here.)

THE STORIES

Holy Austin Rock (English folktale)

A strange girl with magic powers marries a young giant, knowing that human men would not trust her or be able to protect her. Her husband dotes on her and builds her a pretty house. However, another giant comes along and tries to kidnap her. Out of jealousy, the husband throws a rock at them, but the woman is quicker, and smites the kidnapper with lightning (apparently she has weather control powers). She survives, and reunites with her husband.

Kempy Kay (Scottish ballad)

This ballad exists in several versions, and is supposed to be a comedic spoof of romantic ballads. It is about a giant, unkept man who is wooing an equally giant and unkept woman. They do get together very happily at the end of the ballad, though, so I see nothing wrong with this romance...

Vilfrídr Fairer-than-Vala (Icelandic folktale)

This one strays a little into Twilight territory, to be honest. It's a long and elaborate Snow White variant, where the girl, after marrying a king, goes through more ordeals, loses three children, and is exiled into the wilderness. She ends up living with  a kind giant, who not only saves her from her parents' (!) schemes, but also rescues her kidnapped children. In the end, she is reunited with her husband and kids. The giant asks her to leave her daughter behind. When she daughter grows up, she falls in love with the giant, and her love breaks his curse, turning him into a prince.

Three lessons to be learned (Danish folktale)

A man's three daughters marry three giants. Eventually he sets out to visit each of them to see how they are doing. He finds them living comfortably and happily. Each giant husband performs a wonderful feat, that the father, after he returns home, tries to duplicate. To near-disastrous results. But the girls are apparently very happy.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Saturday, April 6, 2024

F is for Friends to Lovers (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.


THE TROPE

Following up on yesterday's trope, here is another all-time favorite: long time friendship turning into love. Also a slow burn, very often, given that the participants either don't recognize their love, or they are too afraid to ruin their friendship.

THE FOLKLORE

This one is less common in folktales, but by no means nonexistent. And I have to admit, I love finding stories where there is a relationship between a couple before they are married - it goes against the common stereotype that in folktales, wives are just handed out as prizes.

THE STORIES

The wooing of Pumei (Oroqen folktale)

I have mentioned this one before, but I'm gonna do it again, because it's awesome. A young hunter tries to impress a girl by showing off his archery skills, but she challenges him instead to go on a quest and woo the most beautiful maiden in the world. She accompanies him "as his sister", and they fight demons and defeat dragons together. Obviously at the end it turns out she is the maiden herself - and by that time, they have already fallen in love.

Is it a girl? Is it a boy? (Greek folktale)

Two kings are neighbors, and one has nine daughters and the other nine sons. The king with the sons mocks his friend, claiming girls are useless, and his sons could bring him the Water of Life. The youngest princess, hearing this, dresses as a man, and sets out to fecth the Water of Life, competing with one of the princes. She meets a cursed prince named Sir Northwind, who guards the Water of Life, and befriends him. Northwind suspects that she is a girl, and devises various tests, but she passes all of them. He eventually gives her the Water of Life and she leaves, leaving a note behind to let him know the truth. He finds a way to reach out to her and call her back, and eventually they marry, her love breaking the curse.

Lame and One-hand (Hungarian Roma folktale)

Two princes are crippled by a witch, and they have to live as beggars in the woods. A kind-hearted princess befriends them and comes to take care of them. Eventually, when the witch tries to hurt her, the princes defend her, and manage to break their own curse in the process. After that, one of them marries the girl.


Snow Bella (Cajun folktale)

This one is a Cajun Snow White variant, where the Dwarves the princess moves in with have an adopted brother. They care for the girl and defend her from the wicked witch's assassination attempts; they even hunt the queen down after the poison apple incident. In the end, Snow Bella marries the youngest brother, because they had fallen in love during her time in the Dwarves' house.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Friday, April 5, 2024

E is for Enemies to Lovers (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.


THE TROPE

If there is one trope that pops up every time someone mentions romance, it's Enemies to Lovers. Everyone is crazy about this one. Passion, tension, banter, rivalry, gloomy bad guy (or girl) redeemed, etc. So I knew I couldn't skip this one.

THE FOLKLORE

This one is actually quite common in folklore - it just rarely ends well. Usually, in these situations, the woman has to be subdued/conquered/bested, before she gives in to the man. Which... also could be a kink, I guess, but it lacks the banter-filled slow burn that the trope above implies. So, I went beyond such things as Cú Chulainn and Aoife.

THE STORIES

The Basil Maiden (Puerto Rican folktale)

This entire tale type (ATU 879) involves a banter and prank war between a haughty prince and a clever princess, during which they eventually fall in love. In the case of this Puerto Rican version, a king challenges the girl to a game of riddles, and she embarrasses him with her quick replies and clever pranks. In the end, they fall in love and get married.

Violet (Italian folktale)

This story is another version of the type above. In this one, the girl initiates the feud, calling out "Good day, prince! I know more than you!" A prank war then ensues where they mutually manage to trick and embarrass each other. In the end, the prince yields, they conclude they are a good match, and get married. 

The story of Halaf (Bedouin folktale)

A chief leads a raid on a neighboring tribe, but when he tries to loot the guests' tent, the daughter of the attacked chief confronts him and shames him for his behavior. The attacker stops the raid, and is impressed with the girl (and she is too, with him), so he returns later in disguise to court her. She recognizes him, and the encounter almost ends in trouble - but then a third tribe attacks, and the suitor helps beat them back. Thus, he wins the girl's hand and the tribes reconcile.

The king's seven sons (Jewish folktale from Spain)

This is once again a tale that belongs to a larger type (ATU 884B). A princess, disguised as a man, goes to war on her father's behalf (hello, Mulan), and the enemy prince falls in love with her. He tries his best to acertain whether she is a man or a woman. His tests fail repeatedly, but in the end she reveals her identity, boasting that she was more clever than the prince. In love, the prince follows her home, and manages to win her hand.

(I blogged about another, Spanish Roma version of this tale type earlier.)

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Thursday, April 4, 2024

D is for Dreamers (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.


THE TROPE

(Beautiful) Dreamer in this case refers to the trope where one person in a romantic couple falls asleep, and the other lovingly admires them. You know, in a totally romantic, non-creepy way.

THE FOLKLORE

This one had an immediate inspiration: Beauty and the Beast. But not the version most people are familiar with - rather, other variants of tale type ATU 425. In many stories of this type, the enchanted husband visits his wife at night in secret, and she never gets to see him in his true form (think Amor and Psyche). Eventually, she stays awake and lights a candle while her husband is asleep, so she can gaze at him and see how beautiful he really is. Usually, this ends badly, and the husband disappears; the heroine then has to go on a long quest to find him again. When she does, he is in an enchanted sleep, and she has to call (or sing) to him three nights in a row to wake him up.

THE STORIES

Wolf of the Greenwood (American folktale)

This tale was collected in 1914 in upstate New York. It starts with a woman who has a "witch chair", which she uses to catch suitors for her three daughters. The youngest marries a handsome stranger, and they live happily for a while. However, a young woman, jealous of their marriage, curses the husband to roam the Rocky Mountains as a wolf during the day, and only return home at night. Even so, the couple eventually has three children. This makes the witch even more jealous, and she sends a dog to abduct the babies and hide them.
The wife sets out to undo the curse on her husband and save her children. She makes her way to the witch's mountain, and exchanges various gifts for spending three nights in her husband's room. The witch makes the man drink a sleeping potion, so no matter how the wife calls to him, he doesn't wake up. On the third day, however, she sneaks out into the woods and gives her wolf-husband a sponge, which he uses to soak up the potion so he can stay awake. The enchantment is thus broken, and they can reunite their family.

The bull prince (Folktale from the Dominican Republic)

I love this version of the tale because, once again, the lovers know each other before the marriage. Here, a prince is cursed into a half-bull, half-man monster for not marrying a witch. A princess he loved volunteers to marry him anyway, and follows him into the wilderness. She lights a candle to look at him at night, wondering how to break his curse - but a drop of wax falls on him and burns him, and he disappears, crying out that she won't find him until she wears out a pair of iron shoes. She does, going on a long journey, and finally finds him in the Land of Gold. She trades three gifts for three nights in his room, but (just as in the story above) on the first two, she can't wake her husband up. She succeeds on the last night, breaking his enchantment, and they can live happily ever after.

Dalim Kumar (Folktale from Bengal)

Due to a curse, the prince Dalim Kumar is dead during the day, and alive at night. No one knows te secret except for his best friend, and a girl who wanders into his mausoleum and falls in love with him. For years, Dalim Kumar lives and dies every day, and his wife watches over him until the sun sets. Finally his wife decides to break the curse. She comes up with a genius plan to visit the evil queen who's dursed Dalim Kumar, and steals the necklace that can bring him back to life for good.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

C is for Chic and Awe (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.


THE TROPE

"Chic and Awe" is the name for this motif used on the TV Tropes website, and it was too fun to pass up. It is the kind of trope where someone assumes that someone else is horrible / unattractive, and then the person walks in and turns out to be amazing. And obviously it results in a love story.

(Image is a reference to this scene)

THE FOLKLORE

Folklore is often criticized for emphasizing physical beauty. Whether or not a character is beautiful or not is a cardinal point in a lot of stories. And there are some, indeed, where someone is assumed to be unattractive, and turns out to be... not that.

THE STORIES

The farmer and the barber (Folktale from India)

Two friends, a farmer and a barber, are about to be married. The barber visits his own bride who turns out to be unattractive, and only offers him spinach for lunch. He then visits his friend's bride out of curiosity, and finds that she is pretty, and also offers great food. Out of jealousy, the barber runs to his friend and tells him "your bride is awful and only cooks spinach". Out of disappointment, the farmer then decides to blindfold himself for the wedding, and refuses to take a look at his wife or eat her food.

Soon after, the farmer and the barber are playing a gambling game in their garden, when the farmer's spurned wife decides to pay a visit. She pretends to be a guest, and immediately enchants her unwitting husband. He keeps inviting her back to play gambling games, and she keeps winning. After the games, he always goes home and puts on the blindfold again, none the wiser. The wife eventually hides all the things she had won from her husband inside pastries. When he opens them, he realizes that the mysterious beauty had been his own wife all along, and runs home to her. Thus discovering the barber's deception, they can now live happily.

Quamar Al-Zamaan and Shams Al-Dunya (Lebanese folktale)

Two kings engage their children when they are born. The boy and the girl are raised together until age then, when they are spearated according to custom. Even though the girl grows up to be perfect, her thirteen jealous cousins plot to destroy her impending marriage to the handsome prince. When the prince is on his way to the wedding, they orchestrate a situation where he can "overhear" them chatting, lamenting how the bride grew up to be disgusting and awful. The prince, shocked, flees from his wedding, and hides in the gardens of the summer palace.

The bride, suspecting what happends, decides to get her groom back. She visits the garden disguised as a guest, and manages to enchant the reclusive prince. He falls in love with her, and wants to marry her instead of is "ugly bride". Eventually his mother arranges a meeting with said bride - and the prince realizes the two are the same person.

(Sadly, there is no happy ending for this story; after years of happy marriage, the prince loses his wife, and goes through a long story of grief.)

Soqak Boqak! (Palestinian folktale)

A very smiliar story to the two above: a prince is to marry a peasant girl, and his spurned royal brides conspire to give him a false account of her looks. The groom hides in an orchard, and the bride decides (with the in-laws' help) to get him back. She digs a tunnel to the orchard and appears there, enchants the gardener, and tears up plants. The prince wants to know who the mysterious visitor is, and obviously they fall in love. Eventually, she reveals that she has been his bride all along.

Kinan Kinan (Haitian folktale)

A bit of a twist on the story: a prince doesn't want to marry, but his father orders him to. He rejects every girl that shows up to visit him, solely based on his servant calling out how pretty they are. When a dirty peasant girl wanders that way, he servant calls out how disgusting she is - and the prince decides to marry her. Once she is cleaned up, she surprises everyone by actually being very pretty, and the prince happily marries her. (This is also a Makeover, obviously, which is a whole other related trope.)

The marriage of Kudim-Os (Permyak legend)

The young chief Kudim-Os wants to build a fortress on top of a sacred hill. The shaman of the hill tries to distract him from his plan, and spreads a rumor that a Votyak chief has the most beautiful daughter in the world. In fact, the daughter is said to be so horrendous that her father keeps her locked away, killing all suitors - but the rumor mill works, and Kudim-Os sets out to win her as a wife. When he arrives, his companion visits the girl's tent first, but her horrible monster face scares him. Next, Kudim-Os enters... and despite the face, he sees something in her eyes. When she sees that he is not retreating, the girl reveals that the monster face is only a mask - her mother's idea to discover which suitor would see past appearances.

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

Do you like the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!