Simple narrative typically of folk origin dealing with supernatural beings. Fairy tales may be written or told for the amusement of children or may have a more sophisticated narrative containing supernatural or obviously improbable events, scenes, and personages and often having a whimsical, satirical, or moralistic character. The term embraces popular folktales such as “Cinderella” and “Puss in Boots,” as well as art fairy tales of later invention, such as those by Hans Christian Andersen. It is often difficult to distinguish between tales of literary and oral origin, because folktales have received literary treatment from early times, and literary tales can often be traced back to oral tradition.
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Fairy shrimp (Eubranchipus vernalis)
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In folklore, any of a race of supernatural beings who have magic powers and sometimes meddle in human affairs. Some have been described as of human size, while others are “little people” only a few inches high. The term was first used in medieval Europe. Fairy lore is especially common in Ireland, Cornwall, Wales, and Scotland. Though usually beneficent in modern children's stories, the fairies of the past were powerful and sometimes dangerous beings who could be friendly, mischievous, or cruel, depending on their whim. Fairies were thought to be beautiful, to live much longer than human beings, and to lack souls. They sometimes carried off human infants and left changelings as substitutes. They occasionally took human lovers, but to enter fairyland was perilous for humans, who were obliged to remain forever if they ate or drank there. Seealso leprechaun.
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