The fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood, has always been one of my favorites - perhaps because she is bringing goodies to her beloved Grandmama…perhaps because the story has a happy ending with the demise of the “big bad wolf”!
Dr. Jamie Tehrani, a cultural anthropologist at England’s Durham University, has studied 35 versions of Little Red Riding Hood from around the world. The European version tells the story of a little girl who is tricked by a wolf masquerading as her grandmother. In the Chinese version a tiger is featured; and in Iran, where it would be considered odd for a young girl to roam alone, the story’s main character is a little boy.
For years it was thought that this fairy tale originated in France in the 17th century, the site of the first written version. Dr. Tehrani found that the varients shared a common ancestor dating back more than 2,600 years: “Because many of them were not written down until much later, they have been misremembered or reinvented through hundreds of generations…We don’t know very much about the processes of transmission of these stories from culture to culture, but it is possible that they may have been passed along trade routes or with the movement of people.” Another professor, Dr. Jack Zipes, of the University of Minnesota - an expert on fairy tales and their origins - believes folk tales may have helped people to pass on tips for survival to new generations.
As you can see, above and below, many lovely renderings of "Little Red" in her riding hood have been created through the years...