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Sweet Porridge
Sweet Porridge Märchen

Sweet Porridge - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 3 min

There was a poor but good little girl who lived alone with her mother, and they no longer had anything to eat. So the child went into the forest, and there an aged woman met her who was aware of her sorrow, and presented her with a little pot, which when she said, „Cook, little pot, cook,“ would cook good, sweet porridge, and when she said, „Stop, little pot,“ it ceased to cook.

The girl took the pot home to her mother, and now they were freed from their poverty and hunger, and ate sweet porridge as often as they chose. Once on a time when the girl had gone out, her mother said, „Cook, little pot, cook.“ And it did cook and she ate till she was satisfied, and then she wanted the pot to stop cooking, but did not know the word.

Sweet Porridge Fairy Tale

So it went on cooking and the porridge rose over the edge, and still it cooked on until the kitchen and whole house were full, and then the next house, and then the whole street, just as if it wanted to satisfy the hunger of the whole world, and there was the greatest distress, but no one knew how to stop it.

At last when only one single house remained, the child came home and just said, „Stop, little pot,“ and it stopped and gave up cooking, and whosoever wished to return to the town had to eat his way back.

Backgrounds to fairy tale „Sweet Porridge“

„Sweet Porridge,“ also known as „The Magic Porridge Pot“ or „The Porridge Pot,“ is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in their famous anthology „Grimm’s Fairy Tales.“ The story was first published in 1812 as part of the collection’s first edition. The tale is classified as Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 565, „The Magic Mill,“ and shares elements with other folktales from around the world. This refers to stories featuring a magical item that produces unlimited goods but can only be stopped with a specific command. The tale demonstrates common themes in folklore such as magical objects, the consequences of misusing power, and the importance of knowledge.

The story revolves around a poor, hungry girl who receives a magical pot from an old woman. This pot has the power to produce a never-ending supply of sweet porridge when the command „Cook, little pot, cook!“ is uttered. The porridge stops cooking when the command „Stop, little pot, stop!“ is said. The girl brings the pot home, and her family enjoys the porridge. However, one day, the girl’s mother forgets the command to stop the pot, leading to a porridge overflow that floods the entire village. Eventually, the girl returns home and stops the pot, but the village is left covered in sweet porridge.

The fairy tale is a cautionary tale that teaches several lessons, including the importance of sharing resources, the consequences of greed, and the value of remembering instructions. It also reflects the desire for a solution to hunger and scarcity, which were common issues during the time when the Brothers Grimm were collecting and publishing their stories. In this way, „Sweet Porridge“ resonates with readers and listeners as it highlights themes of abundance, compassion, and the potential dangers of uncontrolled power.

The Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, were German scholars, linguists, and cultural researchers who aimed to preserve the oral tradition of German folktales. They gathered and published these stories as a way of capturing the essence of their culture’s popular narrative tradition. Over time, the tales have been adapted and reimagined in various forms, including theater, film, and literature, making them a lasting part of global folklore. Although „Sweet Porridge“ may not be as well-known as other Brothers Grimm tales like „Cinderella“ or „Snow White,“ it still reflects the recurring themes and motifs present in many of their stories. The tale has been adapted into various forms, including children’s books, plays, and cartoons, and has served as a source of inspiration for modern stories exploring the consequences of unchecked power and the importance of balance and moderation.

Interpretations to fairy tale „Sweet Porridge“

„Sweet Porridge,“ like many fairy tales, can be interpreted in multiple ways, reflecting different aspects of human nature, society, and culture. Some interpretations of the story include:

The dangers of unchecked power: The magical pot in the story represents a powerful tool that, when used without control or understanding, can lead to chaos and destruction. This can be seen as a metaphor for how human beings must learn to use power responsibly and understand the potential consequences of their actions.

The importance of sharing and compassion: The girl in the story initially uses the magical pot to feed her hungry family, showcasing the importance of sharing resources with those in need. The tale can be seen as a lesson in kindness and empathy, emphasizing that we should care for others, especially those less fortunate.

The Power of Kindness: The story shows that kindness can be rewarded. The girl’s encounter with the old woman in the forest, despite her poverty and hunger, reflects her good nature. In turn, the old woman gifts her a magical pot that helps her and her mother escape poverty.

The Importance of Responsibility: When given the power of magic, one must be responsible for its usage. The girl’s mother fails to remember the command to stop the pot from cooking, causing a crisis in their town. The story serves as a reminder of the consequences of misusing power and the need to be mindful and responsible.

The Danger of Overindulgence: The porridge overflows and fills the town, symbolizing the dangers of excess and the need for moderation. Although the magical pot provides relief from poverty, it also brings problems when not used wisely. This interpretation highlights the importance of balance in life and the potential consequences of indulgence.

The Value of Resourcefulness: The girl’s ability to make use of the magical pot demonstrates her resourcefulness in finding a solution to her family’s hunger and poverty. Her knowledge of the pot’s commands, as well as her quick thinking when faced with the crisis, saves the town. This interpretation emphasizes the importance of resourcefulness and adaptability when dealing with unexpected situations.

Greed and its consequences: The girl’s mother, in her eagerness to have more porridge, forgets the command to stop the pot, leading to disaster. This serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of greed and the importance of moderation. It illustrates how a single act of greed can have wide-reaching consequences.

The value of knowledge and remembering instructions: The story underscores the importance of paying attention to instructions and the consequences of failing to remember vital information. This can be interpreted as a reminder to be attentive, especially when dealing with powerful forces or tools.

A critique of social inequality: The tale highlights the plight of the poor and hungry girl and her family. It reflects the desire for a solution to hunger and scarcity, which were common issues during the time when the Brothers Grimm were collecting and publishing their stories. The story can be seen as a critique of social inequality, drawing attention to the need for a more equitable distribution of resources.

The power of folklore and oral tradition: As a part of the Brothers Grimm’s collection, „Sweet Porridge“ serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and sharing cultural narratives. These tales have the power to entertain, educate, and transmit values and beliefs across generations, ensuring that the wisdom of the past remains relevant in the present and future.

Overall, „Sweet Porridge“ offers valuable lessons about responsibility, sharing, and the dangers of greed, while also highlighting the power and importance of cultural narratives in shaping our understanding of the world.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „Sweet Porridge“

„Sweet Porridge,“ also known as „The Magic Porridge Pot“ or „The Porridge Pot,“ is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in their famous book „Grimms‘ Fairy Tales“ (Kinder- und Hausmärchen) first published in 1812. The Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, were German scholars and linguists who set out to collect and preserve traditional folktales, ultimately creating a treasure trove of stories that continue to be popular today. While „Sweet Porridge“ may not be as well-known as some other Grimm fairy tales, it has inspired various adaptations and influenced different forms of media. Some specific examples of these adaptations include:

Animated Shorts: „Casper’s Golden Gift“ (1962): This Casper the Friendly Ghost animated short features a magical pot that produces an endless supply of food when a special phrase is spoken. The plot is similar to „Sweet Porridge,“ with Casper helping a poor family by providing them with the magical pot. The Magic Porridge Pot (animated movie, 1971): This British animated film is based on the tale of „Sweet Porridge“ and features a little girl who receives a magic porridge pot that creates an endless supply of porridge. The movie is geared towards children and emphasizes the importance of sharing and the dangers of greed.

Children’s Books: „The Magic Porridge Pot“ by Paul Galdone (1976): This illustrated children’s book retells the „Sweet Porridge“ story, adapted for a younger audience. Galdone’s version features colorful illustrations and simplified language that make the story accessible to children. The Porridge Pot (children’s book, 2005): This picture book adaptation of the fairy tale is aimed at young children and features colorful illustrations to bring the story to life. The book emphasizes the importance of self-control and the power of generosity. The Sweet Porridge (children’s book, 2010): This adaptation of the fairy tale was written by Ursula Dubosarsky and illustrated by Amy Golbach. The book is aimed at children and features a little girl who receives a magic pot that creates an endless supply of sweet porridge. The story emphasizes the importance of moderation and sharing.

Theater and Puppet Shows: „The Magic Porridge Pot“: Various theatre and puppet show adaptations have been created to bring „Sweet Porridge“ to life on stage. These adaptations often include lively music, audience interaction, and humor to make the story engaging for all ages. Sweet Porridge (play, 2018): This play adaptation of the fairy tale was produced by the Unicorn Theater in London and features a modernized retelling of the story. The production emphasizes the themes of community and the dangers of overconsumption.

Television: „The Magic Porridge Pot“ (1986): An episode of the British children’s television series „Supergran“ features a magical pot that produces unlimited porridge, similar to the story of „Sweet Porridge.“ The episode, like the original tale, involves the pot overflowing and causing chaos in the town. The Magic Porridge Pot (TV series, 1974): This British TV series is based on the tale of „Sweet Porridge“ and features a little girl who receives a magic porridge pot that creates an endless supply of porridge. The series is aimed at young children and emphasizes the importance of sharing and the dangers of greed.

Modern Retellings: „Strega Nona“ by Tomie dePaola (1975): This popular children’s book tells the story of Strega Nona, an Italian witch with a magical pasta pot that produces endless pasta when a special phrase is spoken. While not a direct adaptation of „Sweet Porridge,“ the story shares key elements with the Grimm tale, such as the magical pot and the importance of remembering the correct command to stop it.

These adaptations demonstrate the enduring appeal of „Sweet Porridge“ and its continued relevance in contemporary media. While the story may be adapted and reimagined in various forms, the core themes of responsibility, sharing, and the consequences of greed continue to resonate with audiences across generations. These adaptations of „Sweet Porridge“ demonstrate the enduring popularity of the tale and its ability to engage and entertain audiences of all ages.

Summary of the plot

„Sweet Porridge“ is a fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm about a poor, hungry girl who receives a magical pot from an old woman. The pot can produce an endless supply of sweet porridge when the command „Cook, little pot, cook!“ is spoken. To stop the pot, one must say, „Stop, little pot, stop!“ The girl brings the pot home, and her family enjoys the porridge.

One day, the girl’s mother uses the pot while the girl is away. After the pot starts cooking, the mother forgets the command to stop it. The porridge overflows and floods the entire village. When the girl returns, she utters the correct command, stopping the pot. However, the village is left covered in sweet porridge. The story teaches lessons about sharing resources, the consequences of greed, and the importance of remembering instructions.

Abstract

„Sweet Porridge“ is a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm that tells the story of a poor, kind-hearted girl who lives with her mother. They struggle with hunger and poverty, but their fortunes change when the girl encounters an old woman in the forest. The woman gives the girl a magical pot that cooks sweet porridge on command, using the words „Cook, little pot, cook,“ and stops with the words „Stop, little pot.“

When the girl brings the pot home, they are no longer hungry or poor, as they can now eat sweet porridge whenever they want. One day, while the girl is away, her mother uses the pot but forgets the command to stop it from cooking. The porridge continues to cook, overflowing from the pot, filling their house, neighboring houses, and the entire street. The town is in great distress, as people are unable to stop the pot from cooking.

As the last house in the town remains unaffected, the girl returns home and utters the words „Stop, little pot.“ The pot ceases to cook, but the town is now buried in porridge. Anyone who wishes to return to the town must eat their way back, which serves as a reminder of the importance of knowledge and moderation when using magical gifts.

Informations for scientific analysis


Fairy tale statistics
Value
NumberKHM 103
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 565
TranslationsDE, EN, DA, ES, FR, PT, FI, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI, ZH
Readability Index by Björnsson41.9
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index69.8
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level12
Gunning Fog Index15
Coleman–Liau Index7.2
SMOG Index8.6
Automated Readability Index12
Character Count1.261
Letter Count959
Sentence Count7
Word Count245
Average Words per Sentence35,00
Words with more than 6 letters17
Percentage of long words6.9%
Number of Syllables294
Average Syllables per Word1,20
Words with three Syllables6
Percentage Words with three Syllables2.4%
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