Aschenputtel…The German Cinderella

Dear Reader:

The Brothers Grimm ‘s  fairy tales were never originally written for children but as a way of preserving Germanic folktales/heritage amid the Napoleonic Wars… when France conquered many Germanic lands.

The brothers wanted to make sure that German homeland literature would continue to be read by future generations. They were driven by nationalism to keep these folktales safe from harm’s way.

Growing up… Wilhelm and Jacob were very close and continued to be throughout their lives….Though they were both educated in law …together they decided to turn their interests to German cultural literature…preserving ancient myths, legends, and folktales. They listened to famous oral storytellers of the time and wrote down the tales from the stories.

*This painting above shows Dorothea Pierson Vichmann, a famous storyteller, who contributed the most to the Grimms collection. (* In fact Wilhelm would later marry Dorothea Wild- another popular storyteller.)

In the first collection of these stories called Children’s and Household Tales …their success was not immediate…but the brothers kept working on the stories “taming” them down for younger audiences.

Still…it would be Walt Disney himself, who would present Americans with lighter and happier endings.

For example…the original German Cinderella was known as Aschenputtel. The story was graphic and scary.

In the Grimms original version…the heroine is called Aschenputtel and she, too, has her wishes come true. However it doesn’t come from a fairy godmother’s magic wand. It comes from a hazel tree growing on her mother’s grave. Aschenputtel waters the tree daily with her flowing tears.

Later in this version of the story, the prince arrives with a single gold (not glass) slipper. Instead of the mean stepsisters pushing and squawking loudly…they each dismember and mutilate their feet trying to get it in the slipper.

One sister cuts off her big toe to try to get her foot in the slipper…the other sister cuts off part of her heel.

The final scene concludes with Aschenputtel marrying the handsome prince in a beautiful wedding… surrounded by two dainty, cooing white love doves.

However, rather than cheerfully tweet the romantic couple to happily ever after… they, suddenly, go into attack mode and  peck out the stepsisters’ eyes.  (How’s that for a happily ever after...our kids would have nightmares for ages!)

*When it comes to children’s stories…there is a lot to be said for re-editing. 🙂

Did you know that folktales are as old as human civilization? The story of Cinderella can be found in ancient China and Egypt. Depending on the diverse cultural backgrounds…details might differ but the theme of the story stays the same.

For example…in Egypt Cinderella’s slippers are red leather, in China the slippers are bejeweled in either gold or silver…also in the West Indies there is no pumpkin carriage but one made of breadfruit.

So until tomorrow…Thank you Walt Disney and other children’s authors/creators who “cleaned up” many ancient fairy tales from around the world. *Once children are grown they can then read the original versions and know the truth behind the earliest anthology…but as far as bedtime stories go…happily ever after is still needed (to put a child asleep) in this old world.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*One week from today Anne and I will be arriving in Portland, Maine and we will be enjoying foliage like the latest maple tree photo Marcia sent yesterday…she wanted to take it before the predicted rains come… (that might drop a lot of leaves)…the only word  that popped out at me was “rain”…please send it down here for us Marcia. 🙂

*When I entered the den yesterday morning… there were streaks of the rising sun forming stripes from the shutters …across the brick entrance with a pumpkin (decor) filled with stripes too….Breath-taking.

*** It is October 1 and you know what that means….time to say “Rabbit, Rabbit!” and have a marvelous month. Jo and Colby…don’t forget…because what a wonderful month September was with the great news from MD Anderson Medical Center.

*Can you spot ‘Little Rabbit’ in all the decor?


*My brother Ben sent me a birthday card yesterday and some “funny money” to take to Maine. When I read the card I had to laugh out loud… particularly these days. 🙂 🙂 :)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


*At least I have something to blame my lack of  ‘maintenance’  on! 🙂



About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to Aschenputtel…The German Cinderella

  1. bcparkison says:

    You hit a concern of mine. Stories for children. I received a copy of the DVD Pilgrim’s’ Progress. It is beautifully done but goodness ..I think there must be an age limit set on it. Young children will have night mares after they watch.I often found myself saying..”.Good grief”.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      Isn’t that the truth…they see enough in the news to never sleep again…but less graphic fairy tales and old anthologies. Good Grief Charlie Brown!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rujuta says:

    That’s such an informative post! Never knew there was so much history and such diverse detailing to Cinderella! Interesting..
    Wishing you a belated happy birthday!! 🙂


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