Cinderella Around the World - Part 2

Cinderella Around the World - Part 2

The previous blog discussed how fairy tales ‘wander’ across countries and cultures, gradually changing and evolving. We used the fairy tale of Cinderella as an example. It exists in thousands of different versions almost all over the world.

Chinese Version

The main character is Yeh-Shen, a beautiful young girl. She’s an orphan and lives with an evil stepmother and stepsister. She only has one friend, a goldfish who is the reincarnation of her mother. The stepmother kills the fish. Yen-Shen listens to the advice of a wise man and collects fishbones to make a wish. Her wish comes true. Wearing golden shoes and a beautiful dress, she attends the spring ball. In the process of escaping the ball, she loses a shoe and meets the king. Having searched for a long time, the king finds the rightful owner of the shoe; marriage and a happy ending follow. This version of the story punishes the stepmother and stepsister for their cruelty; the villagers stone them to death. The Vietnamese version is very similar to the Chinese one; you can read it in Readmio.

Native American Version

Native Americans have their version of Cinderella called the ‘Rough-Face Girl’. Two older sisters make the youngest one take care of the campfire for days so the sparks can burn her hair and face. A powerful ‘Invisible Being’ is looking for a wife at that time. Both sisters claim they know how he looks. However, he is visible only to the Rough-Face Girl because she has a kind and pure heart. She is the only one who sees his image in the forest or the sky. Dressed in a dress made of birch bark, she comes to the Invisible Being. She gets her beauty back when she bathes in the lake and marries him.

West African Version

The story doesn’t end with the heroine marrying a prince. Chinye, an orphan, is the main character in the story. She is sent to the forest by her stepmother to get water. Along the way, the animals protect her from the dangers lurking in the woods. On her way home, she meets an old woman who tells her to go to a hut near the forest. There she finds pumpkins on the ground. The girl has to take the smallest one home and cut it. Chinye follows the advice and finds a treasure in the pumpkin. Her jealous stepsister heads to the same hut. She takes the biggest pumpkin and unleashes a massive and destructive storm. As a result, the entire family loses everything; they are ashamed to ask for help, so they leave the village. Chinye stays in the village and uses her wealth to help the villagers.

Central African Version

Father Mufaro loves dearly both his daughters. His first daughter, Manyara, is selfish and arrogant, while the second daughter, Nyasha, is kind and sensitive. While working in the garden, Nyasha made friends with Nyoka, the magical snake. As soon as the king announced he was looking for a bride, both sisters set out on a journey to the royal city. On their way, they meet a starving boy and an older woman. Nyasha shares her food and is kind and polite to them. On the other hand, Manyara is selfish and disrespectful. When they meet the king, Nyasha discovers that the king is none other than her friend Nyoka, the magical snake. In the end, the king proposes to Nyasha, and they marry. Her selfish, arrogant sister is made to serve her as a maid for the rest of her life.

English Version

There are two differences between this version and the classic version we all know. In this version, the grandfather takes the grandmother’s place, and the prince falls in love before the royal ball. A young, beautiful orphan named Tattercoats lives with her grandfather, who does not care for her because he blames her for his beloved daughter’s death while giving birth to Tattercoats. She is forced to beg for food and dress in rags. Her best friend is a boy who takes care of animals on her grandfather’s estate. When the king announced that he was looking for a bride for his son, the girl and boy went together to watch the parade. On the way, they meet a wealthy nobleman who falls in love with her and asks her to marry him. However, Tattercoats declines, but she allows him to come to the royal palace at midnight to see her again. Everyone makes fun of her for her torn, rag clothes. Finally, the nobleman reveals his true identity and proposes to her as a prince. Her clothes change into a beautiful dress, and she marries the prince.

German Version

In the German version of Cinderella, there is no magical godmother. Instead, Cinderella plants a tree on her mother’s grave, and magical help comes from a white dove. While some versions of this story have a happy ending, in this version, the stepsisters go blind because doves gouge out their eyes.

French Version

The French version has a glass shoe instead of fur. The story ends with Cinderella forgiving her sisters, staying with them in the palace, and finding them decent husbands. You can find this version in Readmio and read it with your children.

Jewish Version

The story called Raisel’s riddle takes place in a Jewish village. Raisel is brought up by her old but wise grandfather. She grows up to be a strong, independent woman. After his death, she finds a job in the kitchen of a local rabbi. During the Jewish holiday of Purim, she gets her three wishes to come true. Since she uses her wishes wisely, the rabbi’s son falls in love with her. Raisel agrees to marry him on the condition that he solves her riddle.

Iraqi Version

Maha is a poor fisherman’s daughter who has to bear with her jealous stepmother. She becomes friends with a small red fish who helps her with everything. In this story, the royal ball has been replaced with preparations for the wedding of wealthy local families. As part of the wedding preparations, the magic fish gives Maha a silk dress and golden sandals so she can participate in the henna ritual. On her way home, Maha loses a golden sandal in the river. Tariq, the bride’s brother, finds the sandal and asks his mother to give it to all the women in town to see if it fits and find a bride for him.

Egyptian Version

This story is about Rhodopis, an enslaved person kidnapped from her native Greece. In this version, the Egyptian maids humiliate her instead of her stepmother or stepsisters. Rhodopis gets red dancing shoes from her master because she loves dancing. A falcon carries one shoe away and throws it into the pharaoh’s lap. Pharaoh promises that when he finds the owner of the beautiful shoe, he will make her the queen of Egypt. This version of the story was recorded in the first century BC and is believed to be the oldest Cinderella story.

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