12 German Myths And Legends You’ll Only Hear in Germany
Germany’s well-known black forests and ancient culture make it a great place for campfire stories. German myths, legends, and folktales are still told today. They are stories about scary, funny, mysterious, and mythical things that happened. Some of these fantastical stories are sure to get your mind going.
Lorelei – German Myths And Legends
German legend says that a beautiful nymph named Lorelei once lived on a steep rock on the Rhine River. She wore a wreath of stars in her hair and a white dress. The siren was not only stunningly beautiful, but she also sang a song that was so haunting and hypnotic that no sailor could stay away from her. Legend has it that no sailor who tried to reach Lorelei and was drawn in by her song ever came back. Instead, they would end up dead when they hit the dangerous rocks. Today, a statue of Lorelei watches over the dangerous stretch of water near St. Goarshausen.
How to Protect Your Child
Jacob Grimm told these important instructions about how to keep your child safe from “changelings” in German mythology. First, put a key next to your baby. This will stop anyone from swapping him. During the first six weeks after giving birth, the devil has more power over innocent people, so make sure the new mother is never alone. During the same time, mothers shouldn’t go to sleep until someone else can watch over the child. It is said that putting a pair of men’s pants over the baby’s cradle will also keep changelings out. How come?
The Changeling – German Myths And Legends
If you’re still not sure what we mean by “changelings,” let’s answer your question with another German legend. Once upon a time, a servant and the cook of a priest lived together as husband and wife in Hessloch, near Odernheim. However, their new baby would not grow or gain weight. The mother was told to go to Neuhausen and give her child water from the Cyriak Spring. People thought that a trip to this spring would either make the child healthy again or cause him to die in nine days. To make a long story short, while they were traveling, the baby got heavy and scary, and someone yelled that the woman was carrying the devil on her back. “Your child is at home in a new cradle behind the chest in the side room,” the traveler said. Put this monster in the stream!” The mother did what she was told while crying, and a loud howl like that of wolves and bears came from under the bridge. When the mother got home, she found her baby in its new cradle, healthy and laughing. And that’s just one way the changeling can strike, dear readers.
Rumpelstiltskin – German Myths And Legends
Rumpelstiltskin is well known to everyone. Here is one of the most captivating fairytales ever, courtesy of the Brothers Grimm.
It’s a well-known German fairytale about an aged miller and his lovely daughter.
The miller boasted that his daughter could turn straw into gold in an effort to impress the king.
The girl was imprisoned by the amused king in a straw-filled room with a spinning wheel, and he instructed her to turn the straw into gold by morning or else face punishment.
As the helpless girl prayed, an imp materialized and assisted her in exchange for gifts from her.
The girl had nothing else to say after doing this for the next two nights. This time, the imp made an offer to assist her in return for her promise to give him her firstborn child.
After a short while, the girl gave birth to her first child and soon after that, she wed the king. As promised, the imp showed up that evening and demanded his overdue reward. The Queen, however, was adamant that she would not give up her child. The imp gave her one day and threatened to kidnap her child unless she correctly identified him.
The anxious queen ventured into the forest, where she overheard the imp singing out loudly while dancing with joy.
The following day, as the imp appeared, the Queen called his name aloud, sending him back to his original location.
The Werewolf of Morbach
The legend says that around 1988, the last werewolf was killed in Morbach. In the village, a single candle burns as a reminder and a warning. One night, the candle went out, and someone at a US airbase saw a figure that looked like a wolf. He stood there and looked at the soldiers for a while before going back to the forest. The flame was put back on the candle, and it hasn’t gone out since. People in the town say that the werewolf will come back if the candle ever goes out. Yikes!
Princess Brunhilde at Rosstrappe
The Rosstrappe is a rocky hill in Central Germany that is part of the Harz mountain range. At the top of this dangerous climb, on the edge of the cliff, you can see hoof marks in the rock. The story goes that Princess Brunhilde was running away from a forced marriage to Bodo the Giant, and he chased her to the edge of a cliff. That’s when her brave white stallion jumped across to get to the other side, but Bodo didn’t quite make it and fell to his death.
Rübezahl, the evil mountain spirit
Near Bohemia and Silesia, in the Krkonoe Mountains, lived Rübezahl, a mischievous mountain spirit.
Numerous tales and various representations of Rübezahl exist. While some thought he used torment and deceive people, others thought he was the guardian of the hills and the forests.
Many times, Rübezahl’s persona has been described as having horns and hooves that resemble those of a devil. Others portrayed him as a monk who frequently gave gifts and presents to the underprivileged peasants.
The Watzmann Mountain
Once upon a time, in the most remote parts of Southern Bavaria, a cruel king named Watzmann ruled. He liked to keep people as slaves and hunt them. One day after he killed a lot of people, he and his family were cursed. They all turned to stone, and it is said that they are still buried near the town of Berchtesgaden in a range of seven mountains. The third tallest mountain in Germany is the Watzmann Mountain in the Bavarian Alps.
The Singing Nymphs of Black Forest
As ominous as its name may sound, the Black Forest is a mountainous region covered in tall pine, oak, and elm trees. Numerous mythical creatures and urban legends have their homes in the forest.
The water fairies, or “mummel,” are said to reside in the 10,000-year-old Mummel Lake or MummelSee, a glacial lake.
Water nymphs and water lilies are the subject of numerous folktales in MummelSee. The water lilies, or nymphs, are said to emerge each night to take baths.
Some people contend that the nymphs are actually the nuns who resided in the nearby monastery. The entire monastery was once swallowed by the lake after a nun fell in love with a farmer.
The Pied Piper of Hameln
The well-known and much-loved story about how the Pied Piper used his sweet music to lure rats out of the city has darker roots than the classic version. This story can be traced all the way back to the Middle Ages. In the small town of Hameln in Lower Saxony, there is a story that many children disappeared all at once without a trace. No one knows where they went, but the Town Mayor didn’t pay the rat catcher for a job, so people think he used magic to send the kids away.
The Children’s Crusade of 1212
One of the well-known movements that started in medieval England and later spread to France and Germany was the Children’s Crusade.
Children as young as 12 years old led the crusade, which was launched in 1212 as an effort to retake Jerusalem from Muslims.
The youngsters thought that their decision to join the movement was inspired by divine intervention.
The movement’s leader in Germany was a youngster from Cologne by the name of Nicholas. He attracted about 50,000 people, some of whom were adults.
In order to meet the Pope of Rome, the Crusaders journeyed to Italy. Their ship crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on the way back, killing almost everyone.
Barbarossa, the red-bearded hero
The mythical hero Emperor Frederick Barbarossa resides in the Kyffhäuser hill range in central Germany.
Barbarossa was a legendary German emperor who steered his country to great heights and was a real-life hero. Due to his popularity, a monument bearing his name was built in the late 19th century.
People yearned for their great hero after Barbarossa’s death, but the “Black Death” epidemic wiped out half the population.
Later in the 19th century, folklore started to spread that Barbarossa still dwells in the caves of the Kyffhäuser mountains and is patiently waiting for the right moment to return to his people.
With his striking one-meter-long beard, a statue of Barbarossa riding on his horse adorns the mountains of Kyffhäuser.
Topic: 12 German Myths And Legends You’ll Only Hear in Germany
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By: Travel Pixy
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