Fairy Tales – Croatia

“Fairies could both protect and hurt you. They were everywhere! Good fairies did everything from helping people around the house and granting wishes. Air fairies were always good. Lake fairies were always evil, and earth fairies were good, unless the weather and the climate turned harshly against them. When I was a young boy, I was very curious about this and often went searching for the bad fairies in the lakes around Bend. I would wonder off, hoping to find a fairy in the brush by the lake. Legend had it, that if you could capture a bad fairy, they would grant you ANYTHING…one wish… to let them free.  I used to dream about what I would wish for: a new bike, candy, a million dollars. The thought of fairies really captivated me. Of course, when I lost my first tooth, it was easy for me to believe in the air fairies (they are good) that would come and reward me for my baby tooth. My parents told me that they used the teeth for making jewelry. So, if the were clean and didn’t have a cavity, they were worth more.  My Grandpa told me that fairies were fallen angels that God had chosen to watch over earth, until they were worthy of heaven. Of course, the evils ones had taken a bad turn and were helping the Devil. As I grew older (and I figured out that fairies were not real) we had a joke in our family when anything went missing, or got broken. It was always the “fairies fault!” They would finish off the ice cream, eat all the cookies and leave the house a mess. This always made your Grammy smile, and, needless to say, I got away with a lot because the bad fairy did it.”

My Dad told me that as a child growing up in Bend, OR, family always surrounded him. His father was from Croatia, as were his fathers parents. My dad recalls his Grandpa Walt telling him the story of fairies long before he lost my first tooth. In Croatia, as a boy, his grandfather learned that fairies could both protect and hurt you. His parent would take the stories of the good fairies and bad fairies and shift them to convey a lesson to him. For example, his parents told him that they used lost teeth for making jewelry. So, if they were clean and didn’t have a cavity, they were worth more. This, in turn made my dad brush his teeth every night so that when he lost them they would be worth more to the fairy. My Grandpa also told my father that fairies were fallen angels that God had chosen to watch over earth until they were worthy of heaven and that the evil ones were helping the Devil. This tied into his family’s Catholic upbringing and made sense to him when he was younger.

I can recall my parents telling me similar stories when I was growing up. I find it interesting that in both my father’s case and mine, the stories were utilized to convey a lesson or to help the child understand a difficult concept in a simpler manner. I remember hearing the same stories regarding the parallelism of fairies and fallen angels when I was younger to help me understand Catholicism. It was also a way to make me behave as the idea that God has eyes everywhere kept on my toes.

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