Cinderella Around the World

Haley Dang, Staff Writer
Edited by Victoria Chiu
Photo by Joe Penniston

This article is posted a couple of days past the actual day, but February 26 was National Tell a Fairy Tale Day! Fairy tales have shaped our childhoods, not to mention that they have also taught us many life lessons. So in honor of the stories that most of us can tell by heart, I would like to tell you one of my favourites. Around the world a fairy tale can be told in many different ways, even if it is, in a sense, the “same story.” Every culture contributes its own little cultural twist. The one fairy tale that myself enjoy very much (and have for a long time) would be “Cinderella”—for the simple reason that it shows how one might be able to rise from the cinders if one lives life with optimism. With that, we’ll now take a dive into the diverse world of Cinderella.


Cinderella by Charles Perrault (France): When reading through this version of Cinderella, you can find that it is the most similar to the one that we know and love in the Disney movie. You can see it from the two stepsisters and the sinister stepmother right down to the extravagant ball gown. The differences you can see: instead of mice, you have lizards. It’s also written in two parts. Culturally, with the way it is written and the description of the clothing you can infer it was written with the French culture integrated. You can read the story here.


Yeh Shen, The Chinese Cinderella (China): The main difference I saw in this story is the presence of a fish, “a beautiful fish with big golden eyes.”  However, this still has the same sense of the animals in the original story, showing the care that “Cinderella” has for animals as well as her humanitarian nature. Within this story the idea of the evil stepmotheris heavily implied because she is depicted as a fish murderer. Even though the fish is killed, its bones become magical and act like the powers of a fairy godmother. With all these differences, it makes for an interesting read. You can have a look through this read here.

Rhodopis, The Egyptian Cinderella (Egypt): This story in itself when told is quite different from the rendition of the one we know and love. However, it has the essence of “cinderellaness” through the inclusion of the ideas of prevailing over unfortunate circumstances and coming out of poverty so that Cinderella can experience a world where she is not being teased for who she is. In this version she is actually a Greek girl who is sold into slavery and becomes a house servant. Instead of having a stepmother and stepsisters who make fun of her, the other house servants she works with make fun of her. Lastly, her fairy godmother is the God Horus in the form of a falcon. He plays quite an interesting role in that he ends up helping her escape the cruel life she is living so she can be united with a pharaoh. Read this rendition here.

Well, I hope you liked this little trip through the fairy tales around the world. These are only a few, there are plenty of more to discover. If reading the variations of Cinderella is not quite your style, you have the option of the live action movie version coming out March 13—have a peek at the trailer here.


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