Hansel and Gretel

dirt road between trees

Psalm 127:3 Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.

Do you remember the story of Hansel and Gretel?  Until recently, I thought I did, but my version of what happened doesn’t match the story at all!  Maybe back in the ’60s, our teacher told us an edited one!

Read the plot from Wikipedia!

     “Hansel and Gretel are the young children of a poor woodcutter. When a great famine settles over the land, the woodcutter’s second, abusive wife decides to take the children into the woods and leave them there to fend for themselves, so that she and her husband do not starve to death, because the kids eat too much. The woodcutter opposes the plan but finally, and reluctantly, submits to his wife’s scheme. They are unaware that in the children’s bedroom, Hansel and Gretel have overheard them. After the parents have gone to bed, Hansel sneaks out of the house and gathers as many white pebbles as he can, then returns to his room, reassuring Gretel that God will not forsake them.

     The next day, the family walks deep into the woods, and Hansel lays a trail of white pebbles. After their parents abandon them, the children wait for the moon to rise, and then they followed the pebbles back home. They return home safely, much to their stepmother’s rage. Once again, provisions become scarce, and the stepmother angrily orders her husband to take the children further into the woods and leave them there to die. Hansel and Gretel attempt to gather more pebbles, but find the doors locked and find it impossible to escape.

     The following morning, the family treks into the woods. Hansel takes a slice of bread and leaves a trail of bread crumbs for them to follow home. However, after they are once again abandoned, they find that the birds have eaten the crumbs, and they are lost in the woods. After days of wandering, they follow a beautiful white bird to a clearing in the woods and discover a large cottage built of gingerbread, cakes, candy, and with window panes of clear sugar. Hungry and tired, the children begin to eat the rooftop of the house when the door opens, and a “very old woman” emerges and lures the children inside, with the promise of soft beds and delicious food. They do this without knowing the fact that their hostess is a bloodthirsty witch who waylays children to cook and eat them.   

     The next morning, the witch locks Hansel in an iron cage in the garden and forces Gretel into becoming a slave. The witch feeds Hansel regularly to fatten him up, but Hansel cleverly offers a bone he found in the cage (presumably a bone from the witch’s previous captive), and the witch feels it, thinking it to be his finger. Due to her blindness, she was fooled into thinking Hansel is still too thin to eat. After weeks of this, the witch grows impatient and decides to eat Hansel, “be he fat or lean.” 

     She prepares the oven for Hansel but decides she is hungry enough to eat Gretel, too. She coaxes Gretel to the open oven and prods her to lean over in front of it to see if the fire is hot enough. Gretel, sensing the witch’s intent, pretends she does not understand what she means. Infuriated, the witch demonstrates, and Gretel instantly shoves the witch into the oven, slams, and bolts the door shut, leaving “The ungodly witch to be burned to ashes,” the witch screaming in pain until she dies. Gretel frees Hansel from the cage, and the pair discover a vase full of treasure and precious stones. Putting the jewels into their clothing, the children set off for home. A swan ferries them across an expanse of water, and at home, they find only their father; his wife died from an unknown cause. Their father had spent all his days lamenting the loss of his children and is delighted to see them safe and sound. With the witch’s wealth, they all live happily ever after.”

Wow, that’s a far cry from how I remembered it.  Here’s my version and moral of the story:

“One day, Hansel and Gretel decided to play in the woods.  So they wouldn’t get lost, they spread breadcrumbs on the trail to find their way home.  The breadcrumbs worked!  They made it home safely and lived happily ever after!  And the moral of the story is to take note of your surroundings, leave a trail if you must so you don’t get lost going home.”

I like my rendition better!

In the eyes of children today, I wonder how they feel when they read Hansel and Gretel.  Do they feel loved and valued by their parents, or do they feel unwanted and abandoned?  Do they feel responsible because of the unrest in their home? Do they feel protected from danger and evil or exposed to ungodly things? Do they fear for their life? Do they feel safe?  Hansel and Gretel is a fairy tale, but for some children, this is their life!

School starts in less than two months.  I guess that’s why my heart is thinking about children today.  I love those kids, and I can hardly wait to get back to the classroom.  I saw a yellow vehicle with black stripes in my rear-view mirror yesterday. I got totally excited thinking it was a school bus, but it wasn’t!  (bummer!).  Until then, keep our children in your prayers, please?

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Pexels.com 




18 thoughts on “Hansel and Gretel

  1. I enjoyed the story of Hansel and Gretel. Thanks for sharing. Although I’ve heard of it, I don’t remember ever reading it. I hope it’s a blessed and safe upcoming school year! 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Children, are dealing with a lot of change and uncertainty now. They definitely need our prayers, a listening ear, and encouragement. Thanks for the reminder! 🌺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Last year we saw a short video about Hansel and Gretel in the library. I thought it was too intense for young children and I still wonder how it made some of our students feel.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, after reading your post and seeing the version that you knew, I thought that the original version is indeed too intense for young kids.
        I think for me having an older brother who I was and am quite close too made me focus more on the love, unity and bond between them. And of course the happy ending.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing this story. It brought back memories. I used to read it when I was a child. You version of the story sounds like cute nursery rhyme. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.