Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

Danish Popular Legends

Danish Popular LegendsDanish Popular Legends

Denmark has many popular legends; this story only highlights a few.

On a battlefield and enemy had been shot. He begged a Danish soldier for something to drink, as the Danish soldier was going to give him something to drink, the wounded soldier tried to shoot him, but missed. The Danish soldier then drank have the drink and then emptied the rest over the wounded soldier. He said he would only get half of it now.

A little boy once disturbed a man in a church at night. The boy’s mother was gravely ill and he had heard that if someone were to scrape the rust off of the bell in the church that they would live. The boy’s mother did live.

A man named Paul Vendelbo was dared by his friends to go into a professor’s house to kiss his daughter. If he did, they would pay for his travels. Paul explained the situation to the maiden and she decided to kiss him. Paul went on his travels and became a great man. He later went back to the professor’s house, not to see the professor, but to see his daughter, the two were wed.

People were once being assaulted bu their enemy and they praised God by praying and singing the hymn A Mighty Fortress is Our God. In the morning when they awoke, a large bank of snow was against their building and provided a fortress from their enemy.

There was once an old woman who had no heirs so she built a church and asked that as long as the church stood that she should remain alive. The people she knew died and year after year, she lives. She would become lucid on Christmas Eve. It was then that the priest would hear her requests. When she finally did die a large white thorn grew in the place her coffin had been.

It was said that the goblins and elves of the world were fallen angels. Sometimes they would intermarry with humans. Children of these unions were rumored strange. A goblin was once tricked into giving away all of his gold for a christening.

Observations

This story is simply a collection of stories within a story, although the story about the goblins has a brief bit that is very similar to a Grimm’s fairy tale in which a goblin and a man bartered crops above the Earth and crops below the Earth.

The thing about the angels though–that is a bit of legend that’s been floating around a long time. In the Bible, of all places, it says that angels mingled with men and the resulting children were giants. Nobody can prove or disprove this of course, but it is awfully interesting that it’s in the Bible.

Getting off on a tangent, there have been real, as in they actually exist, skeletons of giant people who have been found, at least across North America. There are multiple accounts of this and there was even an entire History Channel show about men who looked for these giant bones. So where did the giant people come from? We may never know. I’m betting on random people with acromegaly, but that’s just me.

Themes

These are just stories. They’re various stories most likely told time, after time, after time to young children in Denmark. Did any of these things really happen? Who knows? The original meaning may have been based on something real, or maybe someone just made the whole thing up. Sometimes if we believe in something hard enough we sort of make it come true. Our story becomes a local legend that we incorporate into our local culture. In my hometown such a story was the story of Sautee and Nacoochee, which is basically a version of Romeo and Juliet with Cherokees and Chickasaws.

I recently binge-watched the entire Supernatural series, thus far, and learned of something called a Tulpa. A tulpa is something you think about so much and so hard that it actually comes to life. We breathe life into these legends. They become a part of ourselves, even if they were never true to start with. I doubt a quarter of these stories actually happened, but I’m also sure you don’t want to get into an argument with a Danish person about whether or not they actually happened.

Overall

I can’t believe Hans used the word intercourse in this story.

Weigh In

What local stories have become a part of your history?

Do you think a made-up idea can mean more than a true history?

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