In Denmark, Cinderella Wore Galoshes

Cinderella isn’t a Disney story, and earlier versions are, well, different

Shelly Wilfong

You think you know all about Cinderella, right? She works for her mean step-mother and horrible step-sisters, all the while dreaming of going to the ball. Because she is so good and fair, she is helped out by a fairy godmother, a team of woodland creatures and some pumpkins. Eventually, she meets her prince but must flee at the stroke of midnight, leaving behind the glass slipper, which her prince uses to find her. They, of course, live happily ever after.

Sure, that’s the Disney version. And it’s a good example of “Tales of the Persecuted Heroine,” which usually goes exactly how you would image—a heroine is persecuted for no reason and overcomes her captors. Classic princess stuff. But Cinderella isn’t a Disney story, and earlier versions are, well, different. At Tabled Fables, a podcast about fairytales, they describe some alternate Cinderella stories.

Other versions of the story, for example, leave out the fairy Godmother. Instead, they’ve got magical plants or talking animals that help out. Another detail that tends to change is just what Cinderella has on her feet. In the Disney version, she’s wearing glass slippers. But out of 345 different versions of the story, only 6 of them mentioned a glass slipper. There were golden shoes, there were jeweled shoes and, in the Danish version, she’s wearing galoshes. Even in the Disney version it probably wasn’t even supposed to be a glass slipper—the original description was actually for slippers made of squirrel fur. A mistranslation turned it into glass.

So next time you dress up for Cinderella for Halloween, you could opt for a pair of squirrel fur slippers or some rain boots and still be true to the story—and probably far more comfortable.

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