Silly myths and legends, please?
March 26, 2021 9:35 PM   Subscribe

This is a pretty self-explanatory one. My kindergartner and I were talking about myths and legends today, and she told me she wants to collect the silliest ones. So please tell me about the silliest myths, legends, and folktales you know! Stories about trickster animals and about people/animals/gods making fools of themselves over romance are especially hits with her. If they're collected in a book for kids, even better. Thank you!
posted by centrifugal to Grab Bag (25 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
By 'silly' are we talking like genuinely funny situations, like Finn Mac Cuul pretending to be a baby, or Eris trolling with the golden apple... or "silly" as in "crazy, nonsensical" like "Oh yes the world is made out of the meatballs of the Flying Spaghetti Monster"?
posted by The otter lady at 10:12 PM on March 26, 2021


a long time ago now, but I remember the kid-friendly stories of the trickster Anansi being really funny
posted by alchemist at 11:43 PM on March 26, 2021 [5 favorites]


I really like the book "The Trick of the Tale" (written by John and Caitlin Matthews), both due to its illustration style, (illustrated by Tomislav Tomić) and the collection of stories from around the world. Having said that, my kids only started to like the book when they were 7, before that they weren't big fans, so YMMV.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 11:52 PM on March 26, 2021


If you're willing to read along or if she is ready for brief subtitles, the Chinese film Uproar in Heaven (1964) is very beautiful and covers the early parts of Journey to the West--i.e. the backstory of the trickster figure the Monkey King, who acts silly and upsets other gods in a number of ways.

Also, on the theory that silly really means just engaging to kids, Youtube is full of children's animation from India like Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, Lord Hanuman, and Lord Krishna, covering animal stories, festivals, and epics. To repeat, not silly, but colorful and aimed at young children.
posted by Wobbuffet at 11:54 PM on March 26, 2021 [4 favorites]


Nasreddin aka Nasruddín Hoja! So many tales often involving pfffffft collapse of stout party the puncturing of pretension and exposing injustice by irony.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cV9I7aLaRrs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyW15m0LmGk
Well I laughed; your kindergartner MMV.
posted by BobTheScientist at 1:41 AM on March 27, 2021 [2 favorites]


Is Paul Bunyan silly enough?
posted by inexorably_forward at 4:19 AM on March 27, 2021 [2 favorites]


Is Paul Bunyan silly enough?

Was going to suggest Bunyan, too. Plus, I believe there's an old Disney short about Bunyan that could accompany the telling.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:01 AM on March 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


Baba Yaga is pretty rad. She lives in the woods in a cottage that stand on chicken legs.
The Finnish epic Kalevala has some wild stories.
posted by speakeasy at 5:15 AM on March 27, 2021 [3 favorites]


Alfred Bulltop Stormalong, AB is the nautical counterpart of Paul Bunyan.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:39 AM on March 27, 2021


I grew up in the theater community, and I thought A Midsummer Night's Dream was hilarious! Features a donkey-headed dude and people and gods making utter fools of themselves for love. Any 'adult content' sailed right over my little head.

Also every single kid I know thinks nudity is the silliest thing ever, so have you read her The Emperor's New Clothes?
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 6:00 AM on March 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


Silliness has kept Winnie The Pooh popular for going on a century. Wind In The Willows, too, maybe.

Although Aesop's Fables are clearly constructed to support a moral, a lot of the situations are pretty silly when viewed with a clear eye.
posted by SemiSalt at 6:09 AM on March 27, 2021


Many folk tales of mythical creatures have silliness mixed in with the nope:
  • the kappa of Japanese folklore, while fearsome in the water, have a dish-shaped depression in the top of their heads for travelling on land. They are immensely strong but unfailingly polite, so bowing to a kappa causes it to bow in return, spilling the water from its head and weakening it.(CW on imagery lower down that Wikipedia page: very NSFW/NSFC)
  • Scottish brownies will quietly get on with household chores in the night, but thanking them risks insulting them, which will cause them to wreck the place and leave.

posted by scruss at 6:35 AM on March 27, 2021


Aesop's Fat Fox is funny.

I have, in recent years, had occasion to ruminate on the deep truth of the legend of the bird.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:48 AM on March 27, 2021


I really got a kick out of Rudyard Kipling's "Just So" stories when I was a kid - they're short little tales of how animals got their distinctive characteristics and the ones I vaguely remember were pretty silly.
posted by carlypennylane at 7:26 AM on March 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


Thor's Wedding
posted by angiep at 7:44 AM on March 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


Kenneth MacAlpin, maybe the first King of Scots, was trying to convince his people to go to war with the Picts. The Picts had killed some of his relatives, but also they had stolen his dog. Anyway, his men weren't convinced. So he made an angel costume out of fish scales that glowed in the dark, and went into his men's bedrooms at night claiming to be an angel of the Lord, and commanding that the men obey their king. So they conquered the Picts. (There are other stories, but they're not as silly.) I can't find an online copy of the Scotichronicon, but here's a summary from Rex Factor.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:50 AM on March 27, 2021


Some Native American trickster stories come to mind. Some examples of Coyote stories, some of which might work.
posted by gudrun at 8:04 AM on March 27, 2021


Fairytales etc. from other cultures are going to be based on different community values/mores than the one you and presumably kid grew up in and so will often give an impression of strangeness/unfamiliarity that can strike one as silly.
posted by dancing leaves at 10:22 AM on March 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


There’s also Guy of Warwick and the Dun Cow, in which Guy saves Warwickshire from a giant, ferocious, marauding... cow.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:19 PM on March 27, 2021


the kappa of Japanese folklore, while fearsome in the water, have a dish-shaped depression in the top of their heads for travelling on land. They are immensely strong but unfailingly polite, so bowing to a kappa causes it to bow in return, spilling the water from its head and weakening it.(CW on imagery lower down that Wikipedia page: very NSFW/NSFC)


On the other hand, that image is of a man repelling a kappa by farting at it, which is actually totally awesome for children
posted by dismas at 7:34 PM on March 27, 2021


Sleipnir’s origin story is pretty good, but whether it’s age-appropriate is for you to decide.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 8:23 PM on March 27, 2021


Neil Haiman’s Norse Mythology is full of silly
posted by bq at 7:09 PM on March 28, 2021


There are several Anansi stories retold by Eric Kimmel in picture books that are great. I also really like Coyote Steals the Blanket as retold by Janet Stevens, another great picture book.
posted by mareliz at 1:29 PM on March 29, 2021


At a few years older, My now 16-yo loved How They Croaked, about how famous historical figures died. (pro tip: usually lead or arsenic poisoning). The book is vivid enough to catch a kid’s imagination, educational, and gives parents a hook to discuss everything from history facts to environmental perils (so many medieval\renaissance artists) to the difficulty of being a queen (Eliz I and lead face paint).

I highly recommend it.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 8:02 PM on March 30, 2021


that image is of a man repelling a kappa by farting at it, which is actually totally awesome for children

No, not that one, the ama diver one in the 'Appearance' section (cw: sexual assault).
posted by scruss at 1:39 PM on April 3, 2021


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