Stories have always been a central part of our culture, from the days of cavemen gathered around the camp-fire to modern men standing around the barbeque. The importance of stories is key to all cultures and is often a tool used to give simple but helpful lessons. Taking note of this, the annual Fairy Tale Day held on February 26 is a great way to get stuck into these classic worlds of fantasy.
Before you get excited, Fairy Tale Day is not an official holiday, so you won’t be getting that day off of work. More encouraging is the idea as a whole, as an excuse to get together, tell your favourite tales and exercise your imagination.
As for where Fairy Tale Day started, the answer is very simple – we don’t know, and neither does anyone else. At least the namesake isn’t quite so mysterious. The French term “Conte de Fées”, which translated into English as fairy tale, was first coined in 1687 by Frenchwoman Madame d’Aulnoy.
Of course, actual fairy tales are much older than that. The oldest known, The Smith and the Devil, could be dated as far back as 6,000 years to the bronze age. Having no problem standing the test of time, these tales remain as popular as ever, going on to be adopted by more contemporary writers into fairy tale collections.
In a broader sense, it is the Brothers Grimm who stand as the most relevant originators of the tales we read today. Responsible for such gems as Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White, the tales told by these two still hold their place in pop culture. That said, you may prefer to look for contemporary retellings that are a little less… well, grim.
Gathering for storytime is a great start, but for those who have the time and money to spare, you might consider going the extra mile. Costumes are one great way to do this and to get in character when the tales and being told.
Another potential avenue, at least for those confident in their writing skills, can be to make your own story people you know. You can either adopt existing stories and insert them as characters, or start from scratch if you have an original idea in mind. It’s totally up to you whether you aim for more Disney than Grimm or vice versa – your target audience will help you understand whether it’s best to entertain or to horrify.
Whatever your grand ideas for February 26 end up being, it doesn’t really matter. Ultimately though, it doesn’t matter how much the money you spend or the glamour you try for. Rather, the most important aspect is to find something that fits those close to you best. We can all use a little joy in these current times, and fairy tales are as good a way to bring that as any.