Wherever there are open spaces in trees, such as stumps or open knots, a “Fairy House” can be built. Fairy Houses are collections of leaves, rocks, twigs, crystals, beads, and anything else that can be fashioned into things resembling furniture and treasure. The goal of these assemblages is to attract fairyfolk into one’s local park or garden.
While the informant was in elementary school in Pasadena, CA, children would go outside into a playground area for lunch. While outside, children were informed by teachers of the idea of “Fairy Houses” as well as how to build them. When she went home and asked her parents about these structures , they confirmed and reinforced what she had been taught on the playground. While interviewing this informant, one of our mutual friends overheard this story and chimed in to confirm that she had also participated in this tradition in Mississippi. The informant went on to explain that the Fairy Houses would often only last for 1-3 days, her theory was that students from other lunch periods may have gone around dismantling them.
This tradition seems to me to promote creativity as well as exploration in children. As opposed to climbing trees, which could potentially harm the trees, the building of Fairy Houses does not appear to do any harm to the tree or stump. The construction of furniture and collection of enticing objects, like crystals or beads, also feels similar to the way that young girls learn to arrange home decor using doll houses. It instills from an early age that shiny, colorful things are desirable.