Fairy tales are our cultural touchstones; they use fantastical creatures and unlikely plots to help explain the mysteries of what it is to be human. Yet they capture hopes and dreams with messages of overcoming adversity, rising from rags to riches, and the benefits of courage. Originally for adults, fairy tales can be brutal and deal with taboo subjects, such as the earliest recorded versions of Brothers Grimm, which later became child-friendly. Yet many still enjoy fairy tales and enjoy fairy-tale gifts
Beauty and the Beast
The fairy tale Beauty and the Beast has its origins in the story of Cupid and Psyche from the ancient novel The Golden Ass. In the story, the rose symbolises love, and you can find your own undying rose on this website. The rose in the story is also symbolic of those who need to change their ways, symbolising the fragile nature of life and the Beast’s need to reform from his previous life of vanity and excess in order to restore his kingdom.
Another symbol in the tale is the book that Belle reads in the opening scene symbolises her thirst for knowledge and challenging of social norms. A fairy-tale gift from this story would be a journal to note all new knowledge.
Red Riding Hood
The story of Red Riding Hood deals with the unpredictability of life, with unfairness, misfortune, bad luck, and ill-treatment, yet also courage, determination and ingenuity by the most disempowered to change the course of events. Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf build a harmonious friendship. Your gift to the one who loves this story the most could be a tote bag with “I love you” or a T-shirt with a message from the story, such as “The wolf will always be bad if you only listen to Little Red Riding Hood”
Jack and the Beanstalk
Jack and the Beanstalk tells how a chance encounter with a stranger (an old man who provides magic beans) can bring about terrible danger (meeting a giant) but also incredibly good fortune (acquiring a hen that lays golden eggs) thanks to his bravery and his intellect. Gifts relating to this story can include vibrant double-sided print throw pillows with a leafy design, which will update any room. A hamper of garden seeds and hand tools will encourage the growth of their own beans.
Fairy tales about kings and queens are not only about escapism, but they are also social criticism, with the two stepsisters in Cinderella being quite grotesque despite having everything they wish for. As Cinders finally gets her prince, perhaps the best present for a fan of this story would be a bracelet charm of a “little Cinderella glass slipper” or a bangle that is set with blue and clear shimmering Swarovski crystals that she can wear every day and feel magical. Carrying the message of beauty, courage, kindness and happiness, a Cinderella-inspired piece of jewelry is the perfect gift for your loved ones, perhaps engraved with “fairy tales really do come true”.
Hansel and Gretel
In a tale of resistance and resilience, Hansel and Gretel are persecuted and abused by predators in s story that is both violent and subversive, as Gretel pushes a witch into an oven. Yet the story is more than one of abuse, it is also about the courage and ingenuity of the young survivors. The opera Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck is a popular opera for children, and tickets for the theatre to see this would be a wonderful Christmas gift for a family. You could also create a unique piece of jewelry from beads that sum up the character and personality of the individual you are buying for.
Reworked fairy tales
Female writers have returned to the original and raw meanings embedded in fairy tales to challenge the dilution of the tales over time. Anne Sexton’s Transformations (1971) transforms the fairy tales as does Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber (1979) which is a magnificent collection of retellings of famous fairy tales, full of female empowerment, sensuality and violence in the reimagining of the stories. This to encourage women and young girls to slay their own dragons.