Aloha my wonderful merfolk!
Chicken Little was loosely based on an old folk tale. Folk tales were stories passed down through generations and usually held some sort of moral for the listener to learn from.
Today, I thought I would discuss the original folk tale of Chicken Little and where Disney got the idea for their movie.
Versions of the Chicken Little story go back more than 25 centuries and has given us the phrase ‘the sky is falling’ as an English Language idiom. The phrase indicates a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent.
The story is listed Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 20C which includes international examples of folktales that make light of paranoia and mass hysteria.
There are several version of the story where the chicken believes the sky is falling following an acorn falling onto his head. In the original folk tale, the chicken decides to tell the King, meeting many other animals on his journey. They join his journey on route to tell the King about the falling sky.
The story then ends in many different ways. The most familiar of these endings is the fox inviting them to his lair and eating all of the animals. Another ending, has Cockey Lockey survive long enough to warn the Chicken who manages to escape the clutches of the fox. Most other endings are more happy, with the animals being rescued and getting to the King.
With the differing parts in each version of the story, the moral changes along with it. When there is a happy ending, the moral can see to be ‘do not be a chicken, have courage’. In the endings where the animals are eaten but the fox, the fable is interpreted as a warning to not believe everything that you are told by people.
It is thought the earliest publication of the Chicken Little tale was by Just Mathias Thiele in 1823. This was titled Henny Lenny and was in Danish. It was only once the story began to appear in English did the name the story went by differ so frequently. A Scots version of the tale can be found in Robert Chambers’ Popular Rhymes, Fireside Stories and Amusements of Scotland which was released in 1842.
The first use of the name Chicken Little, to mean ‘one who warns of or predicts calamity, especially without justification’ was recorded by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 1895.
a mermaid be waiting for you, in mysterious fathoms below