Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes, abstracted and tabulated UNDER CONSTRUCTION | Annotated Tale

95. Wonderful Birch, The

Salmelainen, Eero, editor. Tales and Fables of the Finns. Part I. Helsingfors, 1871. No. VIII, i, pp. 59-67. (Collected in Russian Carelia by E. Lonnrot. 1836. No. III.) Also Shreck, Finnische Märchen, p. 63.



Ogress changes heroine's mother into form of lost sheep, takes her place, and kills sheep. Eating taboo. Revivified bones-- Transformed mother help -- Birch-tree springs from bones. Tasks (l & 2) Grain-sorting, (3) To recover spilt milk, per formed by sweeping stove Cross-wise with branch of birch-tree-- Grave help--Magic dresses-- Meeting place (feast) --Ogress' daughter kicked when under table gnawing bones, has, (1) arm broken, (2) leg broken, (3) eye put out--Threefold flight--Pitch. trap catches (1) ring, (2) gold ear-ring, (3) gold shoes--Hearth abode--Lost shoe--Shoe (ring and ear-ring) Marriage tests-- Artificial limbs and eye for ogress' daughter--Mutilated feet (finger and ear.) Heroine taken with false bride to castle. Prince pushes ogress' daughter into river to form bridge; crosses it with heroine--Hemlock grows out of ogress' daughter and is cut by ogress--Help at grave--Birch-tree now disappears-- Happy marriage--Heroine, after birth of son, transformed into reindeer by ogress--Substituted bride--Reindeer suckles child-- Husk, Cast by heroine, burnt by Prince--Heroine turns into spinning-wheel, washing-bat, spindle, etc., then becomes human again--Villain Nemesis--Ogress' dying curse, origin of worms, snakes, and noxious insects.


(1) An old man and woman have an only daughter. Losing a sheep, they go in different directions, but seek it in vain. Approaching the woman, an Ogress says, "Spit into my knife-sheath, pass between my legs, turn into a black sheep," and changes her into a sheep, while she herself takes the form of the woman. Calling to the man, the Ogress says she has found the sheep, and they both go home; then, that they must kill the sheep. The daughter runs to the sheep-pen, tells her mother of this, and is warned not to eat any of her, but to gather her bones and bury them in the headland of the field. The sheep is then killed, the daughter refuses to eat any of it, buries the bones as directed, and therefrom springs a great and very beautiful birch-tree.-- (2) In time the Ogress gives birth to a daughter, and plagues the man's daughter in every way. Once the king holds a great feast, to which all are invited, including the poor, the lame, and the blind. Before the Ogress and her daughter start off with the man to the feast, she upsets the stove, sprinkles a quarter-measure of barley over it, and tells the man's daughter she must collect the barley in the measure and put the stove to rights before evening, or she will eat her. The girl tries to do so, but soon finds her labour in vain. So, going to her mother's grave, she weeps, till her mother asks her the reason. After hearing it she tells her daughter to take a branch from the birch, and with it sweep crosswise on the stove, when everything will get arranged. The girl does so; the barley collects into the measure, and the stove resumes its place. Returning to the birch, she is told by her mother to bathe at one side of the birch, to douse herself at another, and dress herself at a third side. Doing this, she becomes the most beautiful girl in the world, gets beautiful clothes, and a horse with hair partly of gold, silver, and some thing better. Mounting, she gallops to the king's castle; is met by the king's son, and led within. Everyone admires, but no one recognises her. They sit side by side at the head of the table, but the daughter of the Ogress, who is under it munching bones, gets a kick from the king's son, thinking she was a dog, which breaks her arm.-- (3) When leaving the castle to go home, the girl leaves her ring sticking to the door-handle, which the king's son had tarred, and has no time to remove it. Flurrying back to the birch, she undresses, leaves the horse there, and goes behind the stove. The Ogress, on her return, explains that while the king's son was carrying her daughter she fell and broke her arm.-- (4) Next day much the same incidents recur, though now it is a quarter-measure of flax-seed the girl must gather up; the king's son breaks the leg of the Ogress's daughter under the table; the girl's golden earring sticks to the door-post, which the king's son had tarred, and this time she tells her mother of its loss, but is promised a better one.-- (5) Next day the same events occur, though now the Ogress spills the same quantity of milk for the girl to collect; the Ogress's daughter has her eye kicked out under the table; the girl loses her gold shoes, which stick to the tarred threshold.-- (6) The king's son, wishing to know who was the owner of articles left sticking in the tar, has another feast prepared on the fourth day. Before starting thither the Ogress attaches a washing-bat to her daughter for a leg, a pancake-roller for an arm, and a horse-dropping for an eye; whoever's finger, ear, and feet fit the rings and shoes in possession of the king's son is to be his bride. All present try them on in vain. He sends finally for Cinderella, but the Ogress prevents his giving her the articles to try on, and makes him give them to her daughter, whose finger, feet, and ears she files down till the rings and shoes fit. So he has to marry the Ogress's daughter, but, being ashamed of being married in the castle, goes for a few days to her home. When he is about to return to the castle, Cinderella makes herself known, and he takes her as well as his bride with him. Having to pass a river, he pushes the Ogress's daughter into it for a bridge, and passes over it with Cinderella. There the former has to remain as a bridge, and in her grief says, "May a hollow golden stalk grow out of my navel; perhaps my mother will get know ledge of it." Immediately a hollow golden stalk grows out of her on the bridge.-- (7) The king's son takes Cinderella as his bride; they go to the birch on her mother's grave, and get from there all sorts of treasures of gold and silver, besides a splendid horse, on which they ride to the castle. At the same time the birch completely disappears. In time the bride is delivered of a son. The Ogress, hearing of this, and believing she is her daughter, goes to the castle, and on her way, seeing the golden stalk, is about to cut it. Her daughter cries out not to cut her navel, and that she is the bridge. The Ogress smashes it, hurries to castle, and says to Cinderella "Spit into my knife-sheath, bewitch my knife-blade, turn into a reindeer." Though she neither spits nor does anything else, she is changed into a reindeer, and the Ogress's daughter replaces her. The infant being very restless from want of milk, its father goes to old widow for advice, and is told his wife is in the forest in the shape of a reindeer, and his present wife is the Ogress's daughter. When he asks how he can get her back, the widow tells him to let her take the child into the forest. When she goes for it the Ogress objects, but the king's son insists on her taking it. In the forest the widow sings to the reindeer, which then comes and suckles her child, and tells the woman to bring it again next day.-- (8) Next day the Ogress again objects, but the widow takes it to the reindeer as before. The child becomes extremely beautiful, and its father asks widow if it is possible his wife can regain her human shape. The widow does not know, but tells him to go to the forest, and when the reindeer throws off its skin he is to burn it while she is searching his wife's head. All this is done, and she resumes her human shape; but not liking to be seen naked, she turns into a spinning wheel, a washing-vat, a spindle, etc., all of which her husband destroys till she becomes human again.-- (9) On their return to the castle he orders a huge fire to be made under the bath with tar, and its approach to be covered with brown and blue cloth. Then he invites the Ogress's daughter to take a bath. She and her mother, in stepping over the cloth, fall a depth of three fathoms into the fire and tar. Striking the ground with her little finger, the Ogress screams out, "May worms come upon the earth, insects fill the air, for the torment of mankind!"

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: 95. Wonderful Birch, The
Tale Author/Editor: Salmelainen, Eero
Book Title: Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes, abstracted and tabulated UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Book Author/Editor: Cox, Marian Roalfe
Publisher: David Nutt for the Folklore Society
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1893
Country of Origin: Finland & Russia
Classification: ATU 510A: Cinderella

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