Saturday, April 27, 2024

X is for Kisses (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.


Who doesn't love a good romantic kiss scene? Pop culture is full of kisses that are memorable, or even iconic. 


Kissing in folklore has recently come under fire for reasons of consent: the whole "magic kiss" concept seems a bit iffy when one party is asleep (and has never seen the other party in her life). On top of that, it is not even very traditional - Disney introduced more magic kisses than the Grimms ever did. But it is still worth looking at traditional stories and the kisses that do happen.


The panther skin knight (Georgian epic)

One of the best kiss scenes in all of epic poetry. A young king is separated from his beloved, and spends the entire epic trying to find and rescue her. In the end, there is a huge fight scene as he and his friends besiege a citadel where she is kept. At the end of the fight they win, and our hero hurries inside, throwing off his armor and weapons to find and kiss his beloved. Pretty epic scene (pun maybe intended).

The tyrant's daughter

This one is a legend that has its roots in ancient Greece and Rome, and was still popular during the Middle Ages. It goes like this: a tyrant (often Pisistratus) has a beautiful daughter, and a young man is in love with her. Once, he carelessly embraces and kisses her in public, in plain sight of her mother. The mother, incensed, demands that her powerful husband executes the cheeky young man. But the tyrant answers: "If we kill those who love us, what do we do to those that hate us?" And allows the young lovers to marry. You can find versions of this story here, here, and here too. More sources here.

Filenia and Hippolito

This version of the story was published by Straparola but it exists in many different versions in folklore. The tale type is ATU 1418 (Equivocal Oath). Filenia is a beautiful young woman married to a jealous, horrid old husband. She secretly keeps up an affair with a young man named Hippolito, whom she has loved since before her marriage. When her husband grows suspicious, he demands a trial: Filenia has to place her hand in the mouth of a serpent, and swear that she has been faithful. If her oath is false, the serpent will kill her. On the way to the trial, Filenia's hands are bound. Hippolito disguises himself as a madman, jumps out of the crowd and kisses her. Right after, she puts her hand in the serpent's mouth, and swears that she has never been kissed by anyone but her husband and the madman. Her oath is technically true. Her husband dies soon after, and she gets to marry her beloved.

(This legend was also told about the famous Bocca della Veritá in Rome.)

The Nymph and the Dryad

I am not entirely convinced that this is a folktale at all (despite the source's claim), but it is lovely so I'll include it. In the beginning, where fairies still lived in the world, two fairies set out on a journey and got lost. One of them grew angry, and yelled at the other - this was the first and last fight between fairies. A booming voice declared they shall be separated, one living in an oak tree and the other in the ocean, until "forest and ocean meet, and dryad and nymph kiss." The two fairies spent centuries apart. Finally, when the oak tree was about to die, the sea rose, and the water reached the forest. Dryad and Nymph kissed. Since then they continue helping people and animals together - teaching them how to resolve their quarrels.

Do you have favorite kiss scenes from popular culture?

Do you like the folktale versions?

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


  1. Nice way to get around the "x" problem!

  2. The first kiss. The last kiss. And every kiss in between. Beautiful. I like the nymph and dryad story too. Coincidentally, I am currently listening to KISS.

  3. Jamie ( Agree with John. This is a great use of X.

  4. The one with the serpent, that's a little iffy since the first husband was still living. But maybe the serpent didn't like husband #1 either.

  5. These are great stories and a great theme for X. A good kiss and be wonderful (in stories or real life!)