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Fairy Tales and Finding Magic in Life

Do you read fairy tales? Or maybe you read them ‘once upon a time’? What about looking for and/or finding magic in life as we live it every day? Hans Christian Andersen said thatLife itself is the most wonderful fairy tale. And I do believe in that. This of course does not mean that life is all wonderful and a happy ever after. Instead to paraphrase Neil Gaiman, life does have its dragons, and we do have the power to overcome them.

Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.’ – Neil Gaiman

February 26th happens to be another of those wonderful quirky celebrations that need to be celebrated everyday. Among other things, it is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day.

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Fairy Tales, and Other Tales

What is the Definition of a Fairy Tale?

While I did mention that Hans Christian Andersen refers to life itself as the most wonderful of fairy tales, what exactly is a fairy tale? There is no such exact definition, and the lines between folk tales, fairy tales, and other similar stories often blur. More on that later.

Using various definitions across the internet, here is what I arrived at:

A fairy tale is a wondrous tale most often involving magical creatures like fairies and witches, dwarves and giants, as well as other marvelous and imaginary elements and events.

The fairy tale, while not originally intended for children, has in recent times, seen a gentler milder version appear to make it suitable for younger audiences. While some of the really dark (original) versions of fairy tales like Red Riding Hood and Cinderella do make me feel a lightening of the mood is needed, the ‘how much’ is also something I often think about. Should the end result be squeaky clean and all sweet and good? Or should there be a hint of darkness (or more)?

For, using Gaiman’s words here again, “If you are protected from dark things then you have no protection of, knowledge of, or understanding of dark things when they show up.”

And How is it Different from Other Stories?

Then what are fables? Or folk tales? And what about myths and legends?

The word fable immediately brings to mind Aesop’s Fables. And that helps us better understand what fables are. And you should check out this beautiful biography of Aesop I reviewed earlier here.

Myths often try to explain the unexplainable. For example, the creation myth, or the great flood. The great flood is one that we hear across cultures; with Noah’s Ark in the Bible, and with the story of Manu (the first man) surviving the great flood in Indian mythology. You can check more great flood myths across cultures here.

Legends are purportedly true but without enough supporting evidence. For instance, the legend of Robin Hood. Tall tales can go into this category or into folk tales, depending on the tale itself. Like that of Paul Bunyan.

Folktales were an oral tradition, narrating stories with moral that originated in popular culture. I grew up on a steady diet of folk tales from India (like the Panchatantra and Jataka Tales) as well as from around the world.

References, Sources, and h/t: ThoughtCo. Masterclass

Finding Magic & Fairy Tales in Life

I recently read this delightful NY Times article titled In a Pandemic Fairy Tale, a Garden Leads to a Magical Friendship. It is the perfect example of bringing truth to Andersen’s words above. Do read the article in its entirety. But in essence, it talks about a four year old’s mission to bring magic to others through a fanciful fairy garden that led to something more magical.

And that led me to this other NYTimes article that has lessons and activities for parents and educators, based on the magical pandemic garden.

Ways to Celebrate Fairy Tale Day

Read Fairy Tales and Such

Well, of course, I had to talk about reading specifically!

Specific Reads

The title links point to my original post about the book, unless stated otherwise.

Check out my BookShop page if you want to look for these and other similar purchases (the books on my Bookshop list are those I have read or own or have gifted, or all of the above!)


More Fairy Tales Reading

Additional Reads and etcs

Watch Something, Well, Fairy Tales -ish

Watch a old favorite or a more modern retelling or well, so many other delightful options.

  • The Disney versions of course (Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Tangled, to name a few)
  • More movies (including Enchanted for one)
  • Outtathebooks has really delightful videos you can watch. From the website’s About Us – “an innovative multi-platform family entertainment project created by Brian Banks and produced by StorySongs Productions. “

Other Activities

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Fairy Tales and Finding Magic in Life

And Now, the End of This Post

Dear reader, so what about you? Where have you found magic recently? Or come upon life’s fairy tale moments – be it finding a wish-granting fairy (maybe you were her/him yourself!) or slaying a dragon? Or any one of so many possible moments?

And have you read any of the books mentioned here? Which of the movies are among your favorites? As always, your comments and recommendations are always welcome!

50 thoughts on “Fairy Tales and Finding Magic in Life

  1. I am excited its National Tell a Fairy Tale Day. I am going to @Walmart this morning and will be picking up a Fairy Tale book and movie for my son to watch in school this morning. As well as creating a Lesson Plan parents can use when teaching Fairy Tales to there students and will be sharing your post with my readers.

  2. “‘Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.’ – Neil Gaiman” – I love this idea that they are more than true. I consider it my life’s work to help people create fairy tale lives, but what I mean by that is this definition – “something resembling a fairy tale in being magical, idealized, or extremely happy.” So I am a kind of fairy godmother, I suppose! 😉

  3. Fairy tales are always fun to read. Read them as a kid, now enjoying them again with my kids :). Interesting to know that there is a “National Tell a Fairy Tale Day.”

  4. I had no idea there was a National Tell a Fairy Tale Day. I’m definitely adding this to my calendar to celebrate next year. My favorite fairy tale growing up was The Princess and the Pea. I still love reading it.

  5. I love fairy tales. Even the ones that involve a prince rescuing a princess. Who wouldn’t want a man to fight for them like that?

    1. I know what you are saying. Often I disappear into that rabbit hole while writing my post and the post that should have taken me an hour or so ends up taking a whole day!!
      And then after a few such posts, I end up responding to comments a whole month later (like right here!!!)

  6. This got my mind thinking, I wonder if I could convince my kiddos to write a fairytale once a year for the next few years and then have it for when they have their own kids as like a keepsake or tradition to pass along?

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