Fairy Tales in Different Cultures: The Golden Slipper: A Cinderella Tale from Ukraine

So this month Around the World in 12 Dishes is visiting Ukraine. I am behind in writing the intro and cooking something, but imagine my surprise when choosing a story at random from The Magic Egg and Other Tales from Ukraine by Barbara J. Suwyn I found a Cinderella tale. Hazel and I have been enjoying stories from this book each night. I pick one at random to read to her as part of our bedtime stories.Since today is the day I usually would share our food from the Ukraine, I thought we would share the Cinderella tale called "The Golden Slipper".

With so much happening in Ukraine right now, it is hard to really learn about it since the borders could be changing any day. However, Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the largest country completely in Europe. It has been inhabited for at least 44,000 years and is the prime candidate for the domestication of horses. The capital is Kiev and its religion is primarily Eastern Orthodox Christianity. This religion shows in its arts, literature and culture.

On August 24, 1991, Ukraine successfully declared its independence. The first presidential elections were held in December 1991. Ukraine has since experienced several revolutions and is currently in one. (Source)

Now onto our story. In this version of Cinderella, it starts with a couple who have two daughters. The youngest daughter, Hanna, is favored by the father and the oldest daughter is favored by the mother. The father suddenly dies and the mother and oldest daughter make Hanna do the chores. The mother resents the time Hanna spent with her father. The grandmother protects Hanna for a bit but eventually becomes sick. On her deathbed the grandmother gives Hanna a seed for a willow tree. She tells her if anything bad happens to plan the seed and water it. The tree will help with whatever she needs. Hanna puts the seed in her pocket. Then the grandmother dies. Now the mother and sister are horrible to Hanna. One Sunday they put on their Sunday best and tell Hanna they are going to mass and she must husk the rye, clean the house and cook their dinner before they return. Hanna is so sad that she cannot go to church. She goes to the spring to get water and begins to cry. Then she finds the seed in her pocket and remembers what her grandmother said. She plants the seed and waters it with the water in her bucket. Nothing happens, so Hanna cries some more and eventually falls asleep.
Bloedel Reserve Willow Tree
Source: By Geaugagrrl (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
When she awakens she is beneath a beautiful willow tree. She hears voices calling to her and then a dozen maidens come out of the branches one by one. They ask why she is crying and what she needs. Hanna tells them about her mother and going to mass. They tell her to go and let them do the chores. Hanna says she cannot go how she is. The maidens wash her, braid her hair and dress her in fine clothes and jewels including golden slippers. Then a horse appears for her to go to mass. When she arrives everyone notices her including the prince who had decided to attend their village church that Sunday. He stares at her throughout the mass. At the end she quickly leaves. The following week when the mother and sister go to church, Hanna goes back to the tree and dresses in the finery again. Again the prince is there as he hoped to meet the beautiful mystery woman. Hanna escapes once again without the prince catching her. The prince tried to find out who she was, but no one knew. A young boy suggested putting pitch on the post where she stands each week so she would not be able to leave. The prince does this the following week. As Hanna tries to leave she stuck, but manages to get her foot out of the slipper. The prince's guards get to her spot only to find the slipper. The prince vows to marry whomever fits the slipper. All the young women try to fit into the tiny slipper, but none can. The mother forces Hanna into a closet when the prince arrives at their house. The elder sister cannot fit into the slipper. And then Hanna sneezes. The prince asks what that noise was and the mother tries to say it was nothing, but the prince orders the closet to be opened. The prince recognizes Hanna even in her dirty rags and of course Hanna's foot goes right into the slipper. The prince and Hanna leave to be married. They stop at the willow tree so Hanna can put on her finery. They were happily married. 

This version reminds me a bit of one of the Irish versions since it was at mass the prince saw the Cinderella character and it took three weeks for him to use pitch to get the slipper. The golden slipper was seen in the Vietnamese and Egyptian versions of the story (both with the same title of "The Golden Slipper"). It is interesting to see how the story changes through the different regions of the world.

For more Cinderella in different culture posts: