Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fairy Tale Friday #11: Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve, people!

I know it's not Friday, but I had a hard time trying to come up with a post about the positive elements of fairy tales. I guess it's more interesting for me to look at the dark side of them!

Today, I will be discussing the Christmas related tales from Hans Christian Andersen, the author of fairy tales such as "The Little Mermaid," "The Snow Queen," "The Princess and the Pea," and "The Ugly Duckling." Andersen has several stories set during the winter holiday season, but they are not very festive. They tend to be sad. These stories include "The Little Match Girl," "The Snowman," and "The Fir Tree."

"The Little Match Girl"

Okay, "The Little Match Girl" is one of my favorite fairy tales. It makes me emotional every time I read this tale. It's set on New Years Eve where a poor little girl goes out onto the streets, trying to sell matches to make money for her family. It's snowing and freezing, but she doesn't go home. She needs to make money or her dad would punish her. She decides to take shelter between two houses, and to keep herself warm, she lights a match. She hallucinates and sees a stove which warms her up. (Hallucinations come with hypothermia.) Then the light goes out. She lights another match and sees a holiday feast. Then another and sees a Christmas tree. Then another and sees her grandmother who had passed away previously. The little girl loves her and wants to be with her. When the match goes out, she lights the rest of the matches in a single batch, and her grandmother takes the little girl's hand. The little girl is happy as they fly into the sky--heaven.

It sounds like a happy event. But it's also sad. The next morning, her frozen body is found, but there's a smile on her face. She is dead, but her soul is set free.

See how it's emotional for me? The little girl no longer suffers because she's in heaven now, but it's sad that she must die in order to do so.

"The Snowman"

In "The Snowman," a snowman falls in love with a stove inside the house. He pines for this stove and loves it whenever the house door opens, sending some warmth out towards him. Then one day, the snowman collapses and melts. A stove poker is found within him, and it shows why the snowman had been in love with the stove. The stove poker belongs with the stove.

It's so sad for the outcome of the snowman. Dead. The snowman's love for the stove has been impossible from the start. He would only melt in the stove's presence if they are closer together. With the presence of the stove poker is shown, it makes sense why the snowman would be in love with something that would kill him.

"The Fir Tree"

In "The Fir Tree," a young fir tree is growing up in the woods. He feels so small (a hare hops over him like it's nothing and children call him a baby) and unimportant (bigger trees are chopped down to be made into ship masts.) Then one day, he is cut down and brought into a home. He is happy when he is decorated as a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Children come in, eat candy, and open presents while they listen to a man tell the story of "Humpty Dumpty." The fir tree loves the moment and expects it to happen again the next night. But it doesn't. Instead, he's taken into the attic. He feels sad and lonely until the mice come out. He then tells them the story of "Humpty Dumpty." But when the rats come and puts down the story, the mice leave, never to return again. (Peer pressure, most likely.) In the spring, the withered tree is taken out into the yard, chopped up, and burned. The end.

Yes, another sad tale of the fir tree. He gets to experience Christmas in its young life, but that's it. He's only good enough for a Christmas tree that lasts for a short time while the other trees in the woods get to be majestic ship masts that may last longer.


The moral of the post? Don't read these stories on Christmas.

Merry Christmas!


FairyWhispers said...

The snowman falls in love with a stove???

annejude said...

I only know the first tale, and I really like it, but it's so sad.

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