Fairies are creatures which we can find in fantastic tales or in European myths. Since ancient times people have tried to understand where fairies are from and how they live, but they haven’t found a reliable answer yet.
The origin of the name is uncertain, too. It probably comes from the Latin “Fatae”, which was the name given to the Parcae, the goddesses of human destiny; somebody also suggests the word “fàtica”, that in the Middle Ages meant “the woman of the wood”.
The many fantastic tales about fairies describe them like beautiful women with a fair complexion, very tall and slim. Each fairy usually wears a Hennin (a particular conical hat) and a dress of one colour, which usually reflects her personality, or a skirt. These creatures have a very long life and when they die, as the fantastic stories tell us, they enchant themselves in the luxurious, hidden palaces where they lived. Fairies may also live in caves, rocks, woods and hills. Fairies can put on a different look and they can also change other people’s appearance.
There are good fairies: they watch over people, giving merits and virtues, they take care of children, they help the oppressed. But they can become very wicked and revengeful: in fact they are really touchy , and for a little wrong they may cast terrible spells.
There are different types of fairies all over the world, and their names, sometimes very beautiful and evocative, change from country to country: the “Doodshine Shide” in Wales, or the “Peri ” in Persia, for example.
But one thing is certain: the “little folk”, as they are called, exists in every culture.
Throughout the ages fairies have also become very important in literature: famous authors used them as characters in their stories; Shakespeare did it in his plays (for example, “ A Midsummer Night’s Dream”). Plays, novels, films, songs and works of art are dedicated to them.
There was even a British artistic movement during the Victorian age called “Fairy art” , in which the artists represented fairies in their paintings.
Nowadays, fantastic creatures like elves and fairies are seen as carriers of luck. Their existence is surrounded by mystery, and legends and popular tales do not sufficiently inform us about them: this keeps intriguing a lot of people and encourages them to study and discover more about the fantastic world of fairies…