Top 8 origins of legends told to children, where does the little mouse come from?

The world of childhood is peopled with marvelous characters evoked quite naturally by our great lying parents, who are all the same right to speak of the little mouse rather than the tax collector to protect us against the difficulties of future life. But these legends are not specific to each family: they are found in all homes, sometimes all over the world. Who had the idea to invent the story of a little mouse that would change teeth into pieces? And why is everyone taking it? It is that it is still bizarre this story.

1. The Little Mouse

Who is able to turn baby teeth into coins or gifts? Apart from the little mouse, I don’t see. The story actually comes from an English tale published in 1927, The Tooth Fairyis Tooth Fairy, in which a fairy appears at night to retrieve baby teeth hidden under the pillow and exchange them for a coin. In the 1950s, the tale was emulated. The character of the little mouse is typically French, the English having for example kept the character of the fairy; it comes from a syncretism with an older tale, The good little mouse, popular under Louis XVI and which told the story of a fairy transformed into a mouse who hid under pillows. In Latin countries, the character of the little mouse predominates, while English-speaking and German-speaking countries favor the legend of the tooth fairy.

Top 8 origins of legends told to children, where does the little mouse come from?

2. The Bogeyman

Initially, the bogeyman is the evil sidekick of Saint-Nicolas. With his whip, he punishes naughty children, while Saint-Nicolas distributes gifts. This character comes from the oral tradition of the Great East. The people of Lorraine and Alsace attribute a different origin to him, the former tracing the origin of Père Fouettard to the siege of the city of Metz by Charles V in 1552, the latter attributing to him the traits of a brutal marshal who dominated the region in the XVIII° century.

3. The Easter Bunny

Bells or Easter bunny? The bells come directly from the Catholic tradition, while the rabbit has a half-Protestant, half-pagan origin. In Germany, the rabbit symbolized rebirth and spring and was therefore naturally associated with Easter, especially since a legend told that a poor woman had offered eggs to her children for Easter and that these these, seeing a rabbit, had believed that it had laid the said eggs. It is the rabbit who brings renewal and distributes the eggs, therefore. This principle of chocolate eggs was associated with the rabbit from the great German immigration to the United States, in the 19th century, before coming back to us with globalization.

Top 8 origins of legends told to children, where does the little mouse come from?

4. Storks that bring babies

Another Alsatian legend: according to that of the children’s fountain, there was once a lake under Strasbourg Cathedral in which the souls of children awaited their birth. Fished by a kind of gnome, the souls were then entrusted to the good care of a stork who would deposit the soul in the cradles of the newborns. As a result, it was customary to place sweet things on window sills to attract storks and thus improve her chances of getting pregnant. And that’s where the stork story comes from.

5. The Sandman

Basically, there are two explanations for the Sandman. The first comes from the 17th century when, in many European countries, sand in the eyes was associated with a mad desire to close them; the second comes from a short story by Ernst Hoffman, published in 1817, The Sandman. He passed through the houses and threw sand in front of people to force them to close them and thus fall asleep. This Sandmann character, of Germanic origin, gave our sandman the idea that he was a tradesman probably coming from the fact that, passing from house to house, he behaved like a traveling merchant.

6. Babies born in cabbages

There again, there are two origins which come together: on the one hand, a tradition which goes back to Antiquity and which wants cabbage to be a common symbol of fertility. Thus, newlyweds were served cabbage soup on wedding nights in the Middle Ages. The second comes from a story from Greek mythology according to which when Agamemnon went to war, his wife gave birth to girls and boys whom she wrapped as best she could in things lying around namely cabbage leaves, for the boys, and rose petals for girls. The stuff stayed.

7. Santa Claus

Derived from various traditions associating Saint-Nicolas or baby Jesus, Santa Claus appeared in the 19th century. The character was born in the United States, under the influence of Protestant legends brought by Germanic immigrants and from Northern Europe. His name, Santa Claus, is directly linked to that of Saint Nicholas. In 1821, a book written by a Dutchman evokes the character of Santeclaus, an old man responsible for distributing gifts to children from his sleigh pulled by reindeer. In short, everything is there: we gave this character attributes specific to Saint-Nicolas, starting with the white beard and his red clothes, and we added the reindeer and the cap to him in the illustrations. His appearance is fixed in 1863 in British newspapers. The role of Dickens, who published tales about Christmas in the mid-1850s, was crucial in fixing the tradition in the United Kingdom, then in the United States. Then, other authors finish developing the folklore, evoking the toy factory of the North Pole, the elves, and all the rest.

Top 8 origins of legends told to children, where does the little mouse come from?

8. The bogeyman

We do not know exactly the origin of the bogeyman, but we know that it exists in almost all cultures and at all times. The idea is to make him a terrifying character to dissuade children from being stupid at bedtime. The bogeyman will have different names depending on the region of the world and will threaten the child differently: he may eat small children or simply scare them. The name croque-mitaine probably comes from a derivative of Old French moth which designated the cat: the bogeyman is therefore the cat eater. Evocations of similar characters are already legible in Plato.

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