Among myths and legends for kids, mermaids are a favorite. The word mermaid comes from the words mer (sea) and maid (girl).
Myth Stories about Mermaids
- Around 1000 BC in Assyria, Atargatis mistakenly killed her lover, a shepherd. She was so ashamed that she jumped into a lake to transform in a fish. Her beauty was so great that only her bottom part became fish like.
- According to a Greek legend, Alexander the Great’s sister, Thessalonike was a mermaid after her death, living in the Aegean Sea. How did Greek sailors calm the sea waters? They would answer Thessalonike’s question on whether Alexander was alive with the reply that her brother was alive and successfully ruled the world. Pleased, she would let them pass.
- In African folklore, Mami Wata is a mermaid water spirit with a snake. She sometimes transforms herself into a human to wander in the markets. People who met Mami felt their lives transformed for the good as they became more philosophical and sometimes richer.
- In British folk tales, mermaids have been considered to be unlucky. The British painter John Reinhard Waguelin painted many mermaid pictures.
- Russian mermaid tales say that mermaids are those women who died in an untimely manner. Their skin is pale, as sunlight is dim under water and they have green hair, resembling moss.
- Who fell in love with Hanuman in the Cambodian and Thai versions of the Ramayana? It was the golden colored mermaid Suvannamaccha (Ravana’s daughter) who wanted to destroy the bridge Hanuman was building to save Sita, but fell in love with him instead.
- Did Columbus really see a mermaid?
Columbus had said in 1493 that he had spotted some ugly mermaids. Perhaps he saw a manatee or a dugong. These are human sized marine animals.
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