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International Fairy Day

International Fairy Day, reputedly started by artist Jessica Galbreth, celebrates fairies, the mythological creatures of folklore. The term "fairy" goes back to Europe in the Middle Ages, but similar creatures were mentioned prior, including the gandharvas in ancient Sanskrit texts, nymphs of Greek mythology, jinni of Arabic mythology, and others. Fairies were closely tied to Celtic culture and were seen as being intelligent, magical, and mischievous. Early on they were depicted as being serious in nature, and possibly dangerous and cruel. Over time they became more innocuous, and now usually appear in children's stories. They are commonly now depicted as using their magic powers for good.

J.M. Barrie's 1904 play, Peter Pan, said that fairies came from the first babies' laugh, which broke into a thousand pieces. Fairies are usually portrayed as being dwarflike in stature—some may be the size of humans, but some may be only a few inches tall. They are generally portrayed as female, with wings that allow them to fly, and with green clothes and hair. According to tradition, they live in Fairyland, or Tír na nÓg—the land of eternal youth. This means they are rarely seen, although there are times they come into closer contact with humans. They can sometimes be seen at twilight, or during Beltane, Midsummer's Eve and All Hallows' Eve. It is said that they then try to carry off children and adults who are sleeping outside.

How to Observe International Fairy Day

Celebrate the day by reading fairy tales or stories with fairies. Stories about fairies were common in literature in Europe in the Middle Ages. Fairies appear in the writings of Matteo Boiardo, Ludovico Ariosto, Edmund Spenser, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen. Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream also involves fairies. Watching a movie with fairies is another appropriate way to spend the day. You could also make some fairy food to enjoy, and then walk through a woods and look for fairies. Just make sure not to fall asleep, or the fairies may come and take you back to Fairyland at twilight.

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