Monday, April 29, 2024

Y is for Years of waiting (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.


There are romances where one party has to wait for the other for a long time before they can be reunited in love. Sometimes, they have to wait for years and years.This is a trope of consistancy and faithfulness.


Staying faithful while waiting for long periods of time is actually a much valued strength in folktales.


The tortoise husband (Italian folktale)

Returning to this story for a moment after V, because it also features a patient wife. To break the curse, the tortoise husband has to travel around the world, and she has to wait for him to come back. She does wait, faithfully and patiently, and defends herself cleverly from  various men who want to seduce her.

The pigeon's bride (Balkan folktale)

This one is the same tale type as the Italian Canary Prince: a princess lives in a tower, and a pigeon keeps visiting her in secret. When he bathes in a bowl of milk he turns into a prince. She promises never to betray him, but eventually tells her secret to her parents, and the pigeon disappears. She wears out three pairs of iron shoes looking for him but fails. Then she opens an inn and waits for a long time for someone to bring her news of her beloved. Finally a girl does, and the lovers are reunited.

Lindu in the sky (Estonian legend)

Lindu is a girl who directs the flight of birds. Many celestial beings court her: the sun, the moon, the north star. However, she falls in love with the Northern Lights, because they are free and ever-changing, and she loves her freedom. They get engaged, and he promises to return, but fails to appear again. She waits and she waits, and finally after a long wait her father lifts her into the sky. Her wedding veil becomes the Milky Way. There, she can sometimes meet her beloved again and dance with him, although they never get married.

The three pieces of advice

This one is actually a whole folktale type. It usually features a man who has to go on a long journey, either for service or for military duty. After his work is completed, he is given three pieces of advice - one of which usually states he should never act rashly in anger. He travels home, goes through many adventures, and makes good use of the advice he got. In the end he arrives home, and sees his wife embracing a young man. He flies into a jealous rage, but remembers not to act rashly, and questions his wife first. It turns out the young man is his own son who has grown up while he was away.

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!


  1. I think of Penelope waiting twenty years of Odysseus, refusing over 100 suitors advances. His son grew up while he was away too, like in the last story here. My neighbor was 15 when her high school boyfriend joined the Navy in WWII. She waited years for him. They were then married for more than 60 years.

  2. The Tortoise Husband proves the value of patient, faithfulness and that slow and steady wins the race. This is a beautiful trope because it speaks of positive qualities which are vital for healthy, long lasting relationships.