So when I was a kid I lived in the countryside in Ireland. There is a lot of folklore and myths, but the one thing I remember most is, uh, coming across a number of fairy rings in our fields–which is, um, basically a circle of mushrooms or a circle of different color or height grass. I was always told not to walk into these circles, because they are magic fairy forts–which I believed–and that if I disturbed them the faeries would come after me and cause mischief, like putting thorns in my bed, um, or misplacing things on me. Also we were told if we do step into it, to be careful not to take anything from it, or break anything because then the same thing would happen–they would come to get that stick, or, uh, whatever we took, back.
Legends about fairies and elves are very important in Ireland. “Believing” in the fair folk, whether you actually believe or not, is considered patriotic. Children raised in Ireland are expected to know of and participate in the belief of the fair folk, although, as is the case with my friend, they largely grew out of the belief of these legends as they grew older.
My informant is from Croatia, and her family goes back generations in a very rural part of Croatia.
In my informant’s grandma’s time, in their village, they didn’t have a doctor but there was always one older woman in village who knew how to handle diseases– this was my informant’s great-grandmother. She was also known as the town witch. She used to tell her daughter–my informant’s grandmother–all about fairies. My informant’s grandmother, great-grandmother, as well as most people in that area of Croatia, staunchly believe in fairies.
From my informant:
“Everybody knew that fairies exist. My grandma told me that with that certainty like she would state that the sky is blue. All the people from those hills who claimed to saw the faries had the exact same description:
– fairies were the most beautiful women. There are no women of such beauty on earth.
– they are always wearing white
– they are always seen near the water (ponds, rivers)
– they want you to dance with them in a circle. You must obey their wishes or you will die
– they are afraid of the fire
– they liked kids very much, and if you left your kid unwashed before bedtime, you would find the baby clean in the morning.”
Her grandma also told her about the father of her great-great grandma, called Andrija. Hewas the best looking guy in the region. He was tall, handsome, strong, very energetic and kind of quarrelsome.
One night when her great-great grandma was a toddler, her father went to close the stables (stables were always far away from house). He was very very late. his wife was worried. And when he finally came back, he was exhausted, soaking wet and angry. He said he came across fairies and they made him dance with them and they threw him in the water. They told him not to tell anyone or he’d die.
He ate his dinner then, went to bed and died in his sleep that night.