Today is International Fairy Day (24th June), so we ask……..How do you like your fairy?
To be honest I like mine without the liberal dusting of Disney fairy dust, but I may be out-numbered with this thought. I just wish them to be less saccharine and closer to their original folk roots.
So here are some interesting facts about “fairies”:
- The modern day fairy is a construct from the Victorian and Edwardian times, with wands, butterfly wings and pretty dresses.
- Fairies, Fae, or the “little people” as they were known across Europe encompass elves, gnomes, nymphs, and some less savoury characters such as goblins and banshees. Many are mischievous and untamed, some downright ugly and likely to cause trouble!
- I just love the fact that in Russia they have the Bannik, not exactly a fairy but a spirit who is the guardian of Russian bathhouses, ponds and saunas.
- William Shakespeare popularised fairies in the 16th His play the Midsummer Night’s Dream is half set in fairyland. One of his most well-known fairy characters in the play is Puck, a mischievous, troublesome male fairy. So you see fairies are not only the preserve of girls!
Pictures courtesy of Cicely Mary Barker: www.flowerfairies.com
Eschewing the more off-beat Fae, my favourite representation of fairies comes from a series of books called Flower Fairies, which captured my heart as a young child. Created by Cicely Mary Barker and published in 1923, they are a beautiful illustrated collection of flower fairies that look after their respective plants. And wherever a seed sprouts, a flower fairy baby is born.
I spent many a fabulous hour in my grandmother’s garden setting up acorn tables for the flower fairies to feast at. Or searching amidst the delicate blue forget-me-not flowers to see if I could find a fairy baby lying there. I still hope to stumble over the Horse Chestnut fairy or the Elderberry fairy whilst on an early morning misty autumnal walk in the woods. Well wouldn’t you if they looked this beautiful?
So roll-up, roll-up, and liberally sprinkle your water bottle with fairy stickers for International Fairy Day - 24th June.
P.S. Although not a “fairy”, I adore the Dutch gnomes, so check out Gnomes written by the Dutch author Wil Huygen and illustrated by Rien Poortvliet describing the life and habitat of these “little people”. The world created, and accompanying illustrations, are full of humour and transport the reader to into the glorious woodland.