20 December: The Brothers Grimm published their “Children’s and Household Tales” on this day in 1812

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s fairy tales really have very little in common with the renditions of them produced many years later by Walt Disney. In fact, their glossary of images was, one might say, decidedly “grim”: this was because they were what remained of very ancient initiation rites. The first to discover this was the Russian scholar Vladimir Propp who sifted through a hundred European and American fairy tales and found thirty-one archetypes common to them all. One of these is that of a hero, alone in a forest, who comes upon a house with chicken legs.

Strange as it may seem, even in our everyday life we sometimes come across landmarks that indicate gateways towards a middle earth: in Rome, for example, a monster guards a cavern, as it were: in fact, it’s actually a library (the Bibliotheca Hertziana, an ‘otherworld’ if ever there was one). And, getting back to houses on the edge of forests, there’s one in a well-known TV drama fiction that turns out to be a portal to “the Upside Down” (“Stranger Things”, 2016).

Looking at even more mundane aspects of everyday life, is there something in our own homes that has the makings of a fairy tale? An item that fits like a glove, perhaps (though it may not necessarily lay the proverbial golden eggs)?

Name Day
St Philogonius