Spring time in fairy tales
What do fairy tales have to say about spring time? Quite a lot, it seems. To celebrate the equinox, let’s take a look.
The familiar zeal for carrying out maintenance tasks on the home during spring time is seen in the fairy tale The Wayward Castle where a servant girl must build a new tower on top of her master’s castle before the blooming of the first hawthorn tree, to prevent a witch’s curse from blighting the kingdom’s wheat crop. The servant girl repeats this each spring (although it is never explained why she could not start earlier or enlist the help of others) until the castle sports so many towers that it crumbles beneath the weight. At this point a lost gem is discovered in the rubble, restored to its owner and the curse is lifted.
A Cornish fairy tale The Fairies and the Bees explains how the daffodil came to have its familiar trumpet shape. It features a family of fairies that frequent a meadow near Polzeath. The fairies like to dance to the music made by bumblebees visiting flowers. The bumblebees are slow to awaken in the spring and the frustrated fairies want to make the most of the dozy pollinators, so they modify the daffodil with fairy dust to enlarge its trumpet, creating an effective loudspeaker for the bumblebee’s much-loved drone. As an interesting side note, the Victorian fairy tale collector Miranda Cartwright of Bath was so captivated by this notion that she constructed a number of oversized artificial daffodil trumpets from wire and paper and used them for her infamous Bumblebee Ball during the spring of 1874. Witnesses reported that dancers attempted a foxtrot to the sound of the bees’ amplified buzzing, but multiple dancers fell victim to stings from the bees, causing a minor stampede. Smelling salts and poultices were sourced from the entire town for the resulting medical emergency.
We can take some useful lessons from these forgotten tales:
- DIY is not always the answer. Home improvement should be undertaken by someone who knows what they’re doing.
- As the sap rises in early spring, we all want to get close to nature. We should all remember that it’s possible to get too close however, so cover up those vulnerable areas.
- Avoid these hazardous activities. Read a book instead. Something like Disenchanted, where a fairy tale heroine refuses to accept her happy ending.