Christmas has been a favorite topic of folk tales and writers from across the world. While some stories are written purely for entertainment, others convey deep moral ideas that are in line with Christian beliefs. Here are four popular fairy tales about Christmas you should know.
‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’
A famous novel written by German author ETA Hoffman, the story has been widely adapted into multiple art forms like ballet, live theater, and film. In fact, the story is so popular in ballet that major American ballet companies reportedly generated almost 40 percent of their annual revenues by performing The Nutcracker according to a 2013 report. The central character of the tale is a girl named Marie. On Christmas Eve, her godfather gifts her a nutcracker that is shaped like a man.
“Her brother breaks him, and once everyone has gone to bed Marie creeps downstairs and tries to fix him. But then the clock strikes midnight, and he grows to human size and comes alive, along with all the other toys on the tree. Mice enter the room, led by the fearsome Mouse King, and a battle ensues. The Mouse King is defeated and Marie saves the Nutcracker. There is a celebration, and in the ballet they meet the Sugar Plum Fairy and dance the iconic Waltz of the Flowers,” according to The Willow Web.
‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’
Created by American author Robert Lewis May, the story is about the youngest reindeer of Santa Claus — Rudolph. Though he is initially mocked for his red nose, Rudolph ends up proving his worth during Christmas Eve. Since the visibility is poor, Santa has difficulty finding his way and asks Rudolph to use his red nose to guide the sleigh. He carries out his duty and ends up being applauded for his accomplishment. The story was first published in 1939 and has been a huge hit in the U.S., translating into animation shows. In 2017, the U.S. postal service issued a stamp featuring Rudolph.
‘A Christmas Carol’
Written by English author Charles Dickens, this is perhaps the most famous of all stories revolving around Christmas. And for good reason. The tale follows a stingy character named Ebezener Scrooge, who is visited by the ghost of his ex-business partner and the spirits of Christmas past, present, and yet to come.
“With A Christmas Carol, Dickens hoped to illustrate how self-serving, insensitive people can be converted into charitable, caring, and socially conscious members of society. With each Ghost’s tale functioning as a parable, A Christmas Carol advances the Christian moral ideals associated with Christmas — generosity, kindness, and universal love for your community,” according to OSR.
‘The Snow Child’
This is a Russian folktale that has been presented in different ways. One of the most popular stories is about a couple who longs for a child of their own. They discover a pale little girl in the snow and decide to care for her. But come spring, she melts away. In another version, the couple builds a snowman that turns into a child. The girl grows up and finds a lover, but is unable to be in a relationship with him since she has to stay away from heat. The snow child is often depicted as the granddaughter of Ded Moroz, who is basically the Russian Santa Claus.