The legend of fairies

Read a text about the legend of fairies to practise and improve your reading skills.

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Reading text

(1) Fairies today are the stuff of children's stories, little magical people with wings, often shining with light. Typically pretty and female, like Tinkerbell in Peter Pan, they usually use their magic to do small things and are mostly friendly to humans.

(2) We owe many of our modern ideas about fairies to Shakespeare and stories from the 18th and 19th centuries. Although we can see the origins of fairies as far back as the Ancient Greeks, we can see similar creatures in many cultures. The earliest fairy-like creatures can be found in the Greek idea that trees and rivers had spirits called dryads and nymphs. Some people think these creatures were originally the gods of earlier, pagan religions that worshipped nature. They were replaced by the Greek and Roman gods, and then later by the Christian God, and became smaller, less powerful figures as they lost importance.

(3) Another explanation suggests the origin of fairies is a memory of real people, not spirits. So, for example, when tribes with metal weapons invaded land where people only used stone weapons, some of the people escaped and hid in forests and caves. Further support for this idea is that fairies were thought to be afraid of iron and could not touch it. Living outside of society, the hiding people probably stole food and attacked villages. This might explain why fairies were often described as playing tricks on humans. Hundreds of years ago, people actually believed that fairies stole new babies and replaced them with a 'changeling' – a fairy baby – or that they took new mothers and made them feed fairy babies with their milk.

(4) While most people no longer believe in fairies, only a hundred years ago some people were very willing to think they might exist. In 1917, 16-year-old Elsie Wright took two photos of her cousin, nine-year-old Frances Griffiths, sitting with fairies. Some photography experts thought they were fake, while others weren't sure. But Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer of the Sherlock Holmes detective stories, believed they were real. He published the original pictures, and three more the girls took for him, in a magazine called The Strand, in 1920. The girls only admitted the photos were fake years later in 1983, created using pictures of dancers that Elsie copied from a book.

Discussion

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Language level

Intermediate: B1

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Mon, 18/10/2021 - 19:55

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In my country, there is about or more 7 crore gods. Every cost regards gods. Many gods have powers to disappear when they seem dangerous 😂.

Submitted by iEdd on Thu, 22/07/2021 - 17:58

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In my conutry there are several magical stories. For instance, that one of the Cry woman: A mother who lost her children and goes around the land crying and looking for them, confusing other women's children and taking them. Another one is the "evil creature" that killed cows, sheeps and horses absorbing their blodd until death.

Submitted by Rano on Sat, 20/03/2021 - 15:06

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Iam not believe that types stores, but lam wash their moves for fun.

Submitted by Andrea Valencia on Mon, 08/03/2021 - 22:06

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In my country, people in the countryside told stories about the goblin. the goblin was a small male creature that played tricks and frightened children. the goblin is described as small, with long hair and a big hat.

Submitted by Asni on Wed, 03/03/2021 - 00:00

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As far as I remember, there was no story of little magical people in my culture. But, the text brought back some memories about an imaginary creature adults used to scare kids when they played around, behave badly or refused to go to bed. It was called 'Al Ghol', described as an enormous monster that fed on kids who didn't behave themselves or refused to obey.

Submitted by AulianFr on Mon, 01/03/2021 - 17:15

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It's not magical but rather terrifying. I forgot the name of the story but it's about little people that roam around the forest in east Sumatra, Indonesia. These people are thought to be the reincarnation of the persons who died of some tragic events that I believe will be permitted to be mentioned here. It is said that they often walk around the wood gathering some food or sometimes also chasing some innocent children that haven't gotten into their homes late at night. It's weird, I know. But I think this story was made to scare children so that they wouldn't come out of their house at night.

Submitted by Abrarhussain on Mon, 22/02/2021 - 00:15

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In my culture there is a similar story like the Cinderella. The Cinderella is a quite young lady who loses her mother and has many tests in her life, but has help from a fairy.

Submitted by Alec Villa on Sat, 13/02/2021 - 17:49

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Can anybody explain to me "They were replaced ... by the Christian God"? Not quite grammatically but the concept. Thank you very much.

Hello Alec Villa,

The idea is that creatures which are part of legends or fairy tales might be what remains of earlier religions. In other words, once people worshipped nature spirits as gods. New religions (Greek and Roman religions) came to dominate so people stopped worshipping their old gods but did not completely forget them. Instead they became lesser figures in other stories, such as nymphs and dryads. As new religions (in this case, the Christian religion) became dominant, the dryads and nymphs became less important, the stories about them changed and they became faires.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Dmytro on Tue, 09/02/2021 - 11:22

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I cannot remember any small creature from fairytales in my culture but when it comes to that I think of dwarves. Even though they are usually depicted in a negative light, I find them very nice.

Submitted by Ehsan on Sun, 20/12/2020 - 09:48

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Sometimes legends and stories about exotic creatures are heard. Some people, especially in childhood are interested in these topics. I think many of these stories aren't true and they are just built by the human mind. But if we consider the world beyond physics, some of those creatures are real. These creatures include jinns, very small people, etc. There are ways to access them, but it's better to we don't follow them and have a normal living because I think everybody isn't able to control them. On the other hand, the worlds have their own discipline and we shouldn't disrupt this discipline.

Submitted by SMG on Wed, 09/12/2020 - 18:40

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I never believed in fairies, in my country those things are not part of popular culture.

Submitted by Eric75016 on Tue, 08/12/2020 - 08:05

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Hello, I don’t understand this sentence :” He published the original pictures, and three more the girls took for him, in a magazine...”. What does it mean “and three more the girls” ? Thank you for your help.

Hello Eric75016,

The sentence is possibly confusing because some words are omitted. I'll write it out in full and I think this will help:

He published the original pictures, and three more pictures which the girls took for him, in a magazine...

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Murat on Sat, 28/11/2020 - 18:41

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Hello can anyone help me? "fairies were thought to be afraid of iron" i didn't understand. if sentence "fairies were afraid of iron" but "thought to be" why over there? i couldn't understand.

Hello Murat,

Fairies were afraid of iron describes a fact; it tells us something that is true.

Fairies were thought to be afraid of iron describes a belieft; it tells us that people believe that this is true, but it's possible that they are wrong.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ugulhan on Tue, 10/11/2020 - 07:52

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I would believe about small fairies because in my childhood I heard every small child will be protected by God. This world was created many years ago, and The great creator was created first Angeles before we.

Submitted by Lilly098 on Mon, 02/11/2020 - 21:20

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As majority mentioned here, we do not have any fairy tales in Japan. Instead of that, we have many monster stories. Monsters varies from good ones to bad ones. All the monster stories is believed to be based on real people; today people deliver the stories not only to entertain little kids, but also to remind them of consequences.

Submitted by danisep on Fri, 16/10/2020 - 21:36

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Here in colombia there is no stories about little magical people, there is horror stories like. la llorona, el coco, la patasola, the man without head, among others. Just kids and ancient people in countryside believe in that. by the way there is a hollywood movie about la llorona, called the curse of la llorona, mostly latin american people doesn like because not represent the real legend.

Submitted by Nobu1230 on Sat, 12/09/2020 - 09:11

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I think we don't have typical fairies story in Japan,but we have some anime and manga in which there are characters use some magical power.For instance,Dragon ball,Sailor moon and Doraemon.I like dragon ball and when I was young,I imitated their magical power and I improved my imagination for it.

Submitted by senes19 on Fri, 28/08/2020 - 16:24

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In my culture, I don't know really any little magical people. Our stories are based on the truth. Because we believe an one Got. He know and controls everything. Therefore in our culture you cannot find any anti-real matter. But we are reading world classics in our country. We encounter with these kind of people who has magical abilities.

Submitted by Nanami on Mon, 17/08/2020 - 06:21

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In Japan, there is a TV animation for children called "Purikyua". This is a story of teenage girl students changing of appearance and using magic to fight against the bad guys. Girls never do bad things. They have the courage and keep fighting. I often watched it when I was a child. This show has many fans and has been made movies. But I haven't heard any other magic people. Fairies that appear in the stories of foreign countries are considered pretty and gentle. On the other hand, goblins that appear in Japanese stories are considered be afraid. I wish I could see more fairies with beautiful appearance and mental in Japan!

Submitted by Y on Sun, 16/08/2020 - 16:51

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I haven’t heard stories of little magical people in Japan. However, Japanese youkai called Zashiki-Warashi is believed in Japan. It is generally said that children with bobbed hair and red face. There are both boys and girls around 5 years old. There is no unfortunate thing when you see Zashiki-Warashi. In Japan,many people believe that good luck visits you when you see the Zashiki-warashi. So recently, some people stay at Japanese hotel where Zashiki-Warashi often appears. I haven't seen it yet. I wanna see it sometime.If you have a chance, please search it!!

Submitted by Osuke on Sat, 15/08/2020 - 10:53

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I don’t think there are fairies in Japan. However, it has long been believed that there are “Yokai” in Japan. It’s kind of a ghost. But It’s a little different from a ghost. Ghost is a figure of dead person who is unable to go to heaven because of the regret and resentment of this world. On the other hand, Yokai are eerie creatures that cause strange phenomenon that exceed human intelligence. Demon, Kappa, and Tengu are the three major Yokai in Japan. Recently, demons s are often used in Japanese comics. For example, The promised Neverland or Demon Slayer. I think there are many people who already know it, but I want you to read it because it is very interesting.

Submitted by yusuke on Sat, 08/08/2020 - 16:04

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I think there is no creatures kind of fairy in Japanese culture. However in my culture, there are many kind of gods. They have their own part, and they are usually in temples, I guess. They are sometimes found in game characters. So, in Japan, even young people have some knowledge about them.

Submitted by ryota on Fri, 07/08/2020 - 16:49

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I think there aren’t stories of little magical people in Japanese culture. Japan had never had the concept of magic like fairy since ancient times. But there are fantasy creatures like fairy in Japan. It is “Yokai”. It is said that they have existed since ancient times and there are many kinds of yokai and superstitions. Some of them make people happy. On the other hand, some of them scare people. They are very popular among the Japanese. Not long ago, anime with yokai motif became popular in Japan. They are now one of a Japanese culture. I like it too.

Submitted by naru on Fri, 07/08/2020 - 03:46

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Probably there're nothing story of little magical people like "fairy" in Japan. But we believe in one mysterious existance that resembles faires. That's name is "zashiki warasi" in Japanease. This is kind of a supernatural monstor and ghost of a little girl living in an old house. It is believed that this exsitance brings happiness. If you are interested, please check it out.

Submitted by Hennadii on Thu, 06/08/2020 - 10:43

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We have our own ancient pre christian myths with your authentic "fairies". Most of them were natural creatures living in the forest or in the water. Some of them were kind but some were severe. Our ancestors believed in them trying to placate evil spirits with gifts. The creature most similar to the fairy in our old religion was, I think, domovoy - a house spirit. Who helped people if they were kind to him but he could smut them if they didn't. He obviously had just a small power and couldn't be compared with our main gods but some of the habits of how not to provoke your domovoy are still with us. Some people leaving their house before the long journey (vacation, for example) sit in silence in the hall to pretend they aren't going anywhere so that domovoy does not take offense.

Submitted by Riko on Tue, 04/08/2020 - 12:50

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In my country, we don't have any fairies culture. However, many people believe that ghosts and "Yokai" rather than fairies in Japan. There are days for our ancestors like "Obon". In this days, the souls of our ancestors come back home. So we have to clean their grave.

Submitted by Ayaka on Mon, 03/08/2020 - 07:45

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I have never heard the story of fairies in Japan. And I didn’t know two photos taken by Elsie Wright. I don’t really believe in fairies or ghosts in Japan. In other words, ghosts are scary and don’t want to believe them. Therefore, I have decided that I will never watch scary stories that are often broadcast in Japan. Fortunately, no one in my family wants to watch it. Now that Japan is in the summer, and there are more such programs, I have to be careful not to accidentally change channels to it. I hope to enjoy other channels this summer as well.

Submitted by Wakana M on Mon, 03/08/2020 - 06:30

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I don’t know any fairies in Japanese culture. But there are a lot of apparition in Japanese history. They appear in many stories. They called “Yokai“ in Japanese. They are a class of supernatural monsters, spirits, ghost and demons. They often possess animal features. Such as the kappa, which looks similar to a turtle, or the tengu, which has wings, and others appear mostly human like kuchisake-onna etc. Nowadays, they have been featured in anime and become familiar to children. They used to have a big scary image in the past, but now they are loved as characters.

Submitted by Sharif Tayyebi on Sun, 19/07/2020 - 12:57

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There aren't any story which is written in my country or actually I don't know the exact one. But I can remember that my grandparents and some people who lived in our village believed on ghosts and fairies. Sometimes they talked about. For example, my grandfather's uncle who died when he was working on his farm at night, our grandmother and many others believed that he was hitting by ghosts. Nowadys, people don't believe on ghosts or fairies. Especially young people who are educated think that these ideas are mostly wrong. Thanks, Tayyebi

Submitted by antinaoki on Mon, 13/07/2020 - 03:36

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i dont know any fairly tales in japanese culture,but there are lot of horror ghosts tales in japanese history. Like the ghosts in the old house,or the ghosts of the dead people in some places some accidents occured.

Submitted by Austin on Sat, 27/06/2020 - 08:52

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In my Chinese culture, we have a little magical god who can control the land, almost everyone in their house front door will have a little board for them to get their blessing, they look like a tiny old man with a long white beard holding a wand.

Submitted by syah on Tue, 02/06/2020 - 08:32

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I don't really know, is there any story about fairy in my culture or not. But I know fairy tales from narrative text or film. The fairies in the stories like fairy as usual, they have wings, they are very beautiful, some of them is kind. I think fairy just can be a story that can entertain us and give us soma lessons.

Submitted by Stela Stoycheva on Mon, 01/06/2020 - 15:39

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In my culture fairies, they are in children mind, stories, movies...But when I look or read something for fairies, I want ti be fairy :) In my country we have Fairy Teeth :)

Submitted by jason2295 on Sun, 31/05/2020 - 00:13

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In my city, there is a legent with goblins. People says whether you put down a teeth under the bed at night, a goblin come to your house and change it for a gold coin. Folks think when they lose something at home it is because there are goblins around.

Submitted by DW on Wed, 06/05/2020 - 09:09

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There are many magical people in my culture. But it is hard for me to find one who is small in size! Maybe, let me introduce “Nuwa”(女娲) to all of you. In Chinese traditional, there is a god called Nuwa. She made human by yellow clay. She created musical instrument. And she used stone to repair the sky and saved all living creatures. People called her the mother of the land.

Submitted by manemusayelyan on Sat, 02/05/2020 - 10:33

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Hi everyone. First of all i think the reason of stories about fairies or other similar magical creatures in many cultures is to make this world more magical especially for children. In my country-in Armenia there is one famouse traditional hero from national epic called David of Sasun. He drove Arab invaders out of Armenia and had magic forse. David is hero for some children and even for teenagers and adults.

Submitted by Afiefah M on Wed, 29/04/2020 - 13:42

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In my country, there's this story about a women named Cik Siti Wan Kembang. She was the renowned ruler of present-day Kelantan. The daughter of Raja Ahmad and in line for the throne, Siti Wan Kembang was only four when her father died, leaving her to take over his rule. Because she was still a child, the court elders appointed Raja Hussein of Johor as Kelantan’s king regent. Growing up, Siti Wan Kembang took on many responsibilities and became very skilled in horse-riding and sword-fighting. When the time came for her to take over the throne after Raja Hussein’s passing, Siti Wan Kembang was only 25 but she was ready. She ruled Kelantan for over 30 years! Although she never married, she adopted Puteri Sa’adong as her daughter after her parents’ passing. Puteri Sa’adong would later take over as ruler of Kelantan.

Submitted by OlaIELTS on Tue, 21/04/2020 - 17:06

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We has the story of 'Ojuju' and other mystical creatures in my culture. They are in form of spirit.

Submitted by yasmd_ on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 11:40

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What stories of little magical people are there in your culture? What are they like? In the Middle Age was common the stories of little magical people who appears between trees and wins heart of prince. in that period is frequent to use supernatural beings in order to explain the origins of lineage.

Submitted by shahhoseini on Thu, 05/03/2020 - 06:56

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What stories of little magical people are there in your culture? What are they like? In my culture, there is a hero called Arash. He was a great archer and in the war between Iran and enemy country, he threw an arrow and in this manner determined the border between these two countries. But, unfortunately, after throwing he died.

Submitted by Maksim on Wed, 26/02/2020 - 11:51

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There is a character in Russian tales like Baba Yaga. It's an old woman who lives in a hut with chicken legs in the woods. She's very scary and likes to eat children. Also, her vehicle is a mortar with a broom.

Submitted by huyentran on Thu, 20/02/2020 - 01:16

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I believed there were fairies on earth but when I grew up, I realized that there were no fairies on earth. It is just a character that people create in imagination. But who knows, they are living on another planet.

Submitted by mtalebi on Sat, 01/02/2020 - 07:11

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I don't believe in fairies.

Submitted by Ditsy on Wed, 18/12/2019 - 14:25

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What stories of little magical people are there in your culture? What are they like? In my country, we have 'domovoy'. Domovoy translates like 'man, who takes control of the house.' This is a cute small person. He has tree bottoms. He has bast shoes - this is wooden shoes. He has a red beard. He saves the house from angry spirits.

Submitted by Lujsel on Sun, 15/12/2019 - 13:09

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I think stories about fairies, dryads, and nymphs are has written for children to convince them in magic around the world. But in our time, I believe only in God and angels, which helps humans if they pray, go to church to Holy Liturgy and take Eucharist. My religious says, the Holy Spirit gives us salvation and help us in the material world, such as safe us from a bad situation or people. So, what spirit (holy or evil) is in your soul that what you attract to you, and it is no magic. Even in our country, the priest-exorcist helps people with evil-spirits to salvation them from it. So, why I believe in holy spirits and their power to help people (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)

Submitted by Roulaotaki on Sun, 20/10/2019 - 07:07

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In my country they believe more about reaps The think if you take a shower at night or sing in the bathroom the reap will enter inside your body and control you

Submitted by Steve Zarv on Tue, 24/09/2019 - 22:50

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This comment is prone to be dismissed but here it is. As far as my culture is concerned, beliefs of Judeo-christian religions have been downgrading when becoming in something that is addressed when it comes to portrait a selfish concept of people problems, along with this downgrading some myths have been being created by people that have the upper hand when trying to take advantage of this ignorance. Statements comprising arguably certain kind of "sacred beings" which practice witchcraft is something that is becoming frequent, indeed, is the attraction when fairs are held in downtown.
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