Slavic tales and legends: riches of the Ukrainian bestiary

Slavic tales and legends: riches of the Ukrainian bestiary

Animals, which have shared the daily lives of humans for a long time, play the main roles in these tales and legends. Passed down orally from generation to generation, some find their roots in Antiquity. As in Aesop’s fables, human characteristics are projected onto the animal world. The Gospels serve as a backdrop to this kind of popular Bible allowing us to address family and moral issues. Reflections of the concerns of the men of their time, these texts must be read by putting into perspective certain points of view on women, foreigners or on the severity of God… In thirty years, Ukrainian society has developed a growing interest in its heritage (stories, songs, traditional embroidery), thus nourishing the popular momentum towards the independence of the country. Within the Department of Slavic Studies at Sorbonne University, we continue our work beyond war and nationalities. Since the start of the conflict, Ukrainian researchers have joined our teams in France, with the remaining objective of strengthening our ties around culture. Of Russian origin, I myself am very attached to Ukraine where part of my family comes from. It’s my second homeland.” Collected by Catherine Escrive

Thanks to the editor Marc Wiltz for his kind permission.

Snow and the hare

– I have a headache.

“Perhaps you are melting,” replied the hare, sitting down on a stump and beginning to cry. I pity you, poor snow, he continued. While running, I made holes all over your whiteness. I usually hide in the snow to escape the fox, the wolf, the hunter. How will I survive without you? I will ask the master of the forest to preserve you, poor snow.

In tears, the hare began to implore the forest spirit. The sun was already very high and very hot. The snow was melting and streams were coming down from the top of the slope. The forest spirit heard the hare, listened to his request and said to him:

— I can’t compete with the sun or keep the snow. But I can exchange your white fur for gray fur. In summer, you can hide in dead leaves, bushes and grass, and no one will see you.

The hare rejoices. Since then, he has exchanged his winter fur for his summer fur every year.

Why does the ox chew the cud?

At the birth of the Lord, when he was lying in the manger, the ox not only did not disturb a single blade of straw, but also, with his breath, warmed God. While the horse, which was on the other side, pulled all the hay towards him. Then the Mother of God said: — You will always be, O good ox, satisfied in God, and you, horse, you will always be hungry, even if you eat to death! And these words were fulfilled. The horse eats and always remains hungry. And the ox, although without food, always has something in its mouth to chew on.

Why does the donkey have long ears?

Why did Jesus ride the donkey and not another animal? As the Lord did not have a halter, he rode the donkey by the ears and walked like this: when he had to turn in one direction, he pulled him by one ear and the donkey followed him. This is why the donkey’s ears are elongated.

Why do the dog and the cat argue all the time?

One day the dogs wrote a letter to the Pope in Rome and set out to give it to him. To accomplish this, they had to cross water. But a dog could not hold the letter between its teeth while swimming, because it would have been splashed. So they hired a cat to ride on the dog’s back. As soon as said, as soon as done, they did not forget to warn the cat: if the letter got wet, the dogs would shred it. When they reached the river, the dog took the cat on his shoulders. During the crossing, the dog kept asking the cat if the letter was not lost so as not to transport the cat unnecessarily. But the feline didn’t respond. The dog ended up warning the cat: if he persisted in remaining silent, he would be thrown into the water. The cat got scared and swore he had the letter. But the moment he opened his mouth, the letter fell into the water and became soaked. The dog, annoyed, threw the cat into the water. And since then the cat and the dog have hated each other

The jay

“In a hurry like the jay going to paradise,” says the expression. Because one fine day, the jay, being on the road to paradise, stopped to think and asked himself: “What if I went back to see if I had already gone a long way?” He returned to the place from which he had started and continued his journey towards paradise. He was flying and doubts were taking over him again: “What if I went back to see how far I have already traveled?” He flew like this until winter came; that’s why it winters here and doesn’t go to bird paradise.

Why do crayfish have eyes on their backside?

One day, Christ was fording a river and unintentionally stepped on a crayfish. At the time, the crustacean had its eyes in front. She got angry with Christ:

— Can’t you watch where you’re walking? Why do you have to crush me? Where are your eyes? They wouldn’t be on your behind by any chance?

Christ answered him:

– Since you speak to me like this, you will have your eyes on the back and not on the head. That’s why the crayfish has its eyes there.

The cow and the horse

Long ago, when the blessing was given and there were cattle on earth, the cow had great teeth, but no horns. While the horse, creature of the Evil One, its head adorned with horns, lacked teeth. One day, the cow made him a proposition: – Give me your horns and I will give you my teeth, because the horns do not suit you well. They made the exchange. The cow gave its upper teeth and received the horns. The horse bears the mark of this exchange, even today, since it had horns on the top of its head. And since then, the cow has no teeth, just hollow snags.

Similar Posts