Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

What the Moon Saw-First Evening

What the Moon Saw-First Evening

My Apologies. I accidentally skipped over the Moon’s first evening yesterday.

What the Moon Saw-First Evening

Ah, on with the moon and its travels.

The artist was lonely in his apartment, but the moon had promised that he would come and tell the artist the things he had seen so he would not be lonely. On the first evening the moon had been in India shining upon the Ganges. There upon the shore of the Ganges was a young woman. She brought with her a lamp. She set the lamp upon the river and watched it float away. She knew that if it stayed lit her love was alive. If the flame was suddenly extinguished then her love was dead. She watched on. The flame stayed lit. She was happy and overjoyed that her love was still alive, even though there was a snake near her feet.

That was the first night.

What the Moon Saw-First EveningObservations

I’ve never heard of this superstition that the young woman performs. Believe it or not, there is an Indian tradition to set lit lanterns upon the rivers, but it doesn’t quite match up with what the girl does in this story. The festival is called Diwali and it lasts five days in India. How you would practice Diwali is determined by where you’re at in India and what religion you are. The third day of Diwali is known as Lakshmi Puja. One of the things people do on Lakshmi Puja is lights lanterns everywhere, often in rows, but they will also light lanterns, called Diyas, and set them afloat on rivers and other waters. This is the day of Diwali where people think about and celebrate important relationships and friendships.

The girl in this story is performing more of a fortune-telling superstition. It sounds very similar to the practice by which a young woman would look over her shoulder into a mirror down into a well to see her future husband. This ritual she performs sounds more like a silly superstition rather than any actual cultural or religious ritual, but I could be wrong. India is a big place; it’s known as a sub-continent after all. People in India have all kinds of traditions depending on where in the country they live. This may actually be a little backwoodsy tradition that people practice in India, but it honestly sounds more like a European import, much like looking down a well with a mirror.

You have to remember that India is a country that largely practiced arranged marriage. There would have been young women who fell in love and hoped for a relationship with their chosen man, but was it common? Was it likely? It probably wasn’t as likely as we would think it would be, but we also have to take into consideration that India was colonized at one point by the British and British ideas and ways of living were carried to India. Things were changing. Was it probable that there was a young woman sneaking out at night to set a lantern upon the water to see if her love was alive? No, it wasn’t probable, but it wasn’t impossible.

What the Moon Saw-First EveningThemes

I think the moon showed the artist that he wasn’t alone in his loneliness when he told him of the first night. There were people other places who were just as lonely as he was. This young woman was alone waiting for her love to return. She didn’t know whether he was alive or dead. She just waited. She hung onto a silly superstition in hopes that he might still be alive. The world around, no matter your race or country of origin, you can be lonely; you can feel the same emotions everywhere else feels. In the fact that others are lonely as well, you’re not quite as lonely as you originally thought.


Why mention the snake?

Weigh In

What other superstitions akin to the superstition the girl performs in this story do you know?

Do you think the artist felt less lonely after hearing this story?


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