Where did Little Red Riding Hood Really Come From?
*Please note that children may find some aspects of this post distressing. It is not recommended for readers under 15 years.
We all know the story of Little Red Riding Hood, but like many children’s stories, Jack in the Beanstalk included, it has a beginning which stretches back in time.
The story began as we know it from Grimms Fairytales, however, it can be traced right back to East Asia during the first century where it was part of a series of tales called, the Grandaunt Tiger.
It has also been called, “The False Grandmother” or “La finta Nonna”, and was shared by peasants in a collection of Italian folktales in the fourteenth century.
Four hundred years before that, in the 10th century a French schoolmaster, Egbert of Liege, recorded the story as it was told to him by people in the area.
Not Always a Wolf
The antagonist has not always been a wolf. In some stories an ogre or werewolf stood in that role.
In the early tales, the little girl is killed by the wolf or she manages to escape using her own wit and cleverness.
Some of the early endings are quite brutal and you should check before allowing any child to read them. For example, in one telling the wolf leaves the flesh and blood of the grandmother for the girl to eat who not realizing cannibalizes her own grandmother.
In other tellings, the wolf takes the girl into bed with him after removing her clothes, and she eventually escapes.
One interesting ending is where a group of laundresses help Little Red Riding Hood escape by tying a sheet over a river.
Little Red Riding Hood runs across to safety but the sheet is released when the wolf is half way across and he drowns in the river.
Many fairytales were shared to warn and educate children, especially girls, about the dangers that existed in their world.
Animals, like the wolf, were used as metaphors for darker human personalities because as superstition dictated referring to them would give them power, and may bring them close.
For more information see Wiki Little Red Riding Hood