Mermaids as mythical creatures are fascinating from many standpoints, and appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including Europe, Asia, and Africa. The first tales of Mermaids are reported to have come from a Syrian myth dating from the 1st century BCE. The English word "Mermaid" is comparatively new, with the earliest attestation found in Chaucer. Etymologically, the word comes from "mere" meaning sea, and "maid" as in young woman.
Sometime during the medieval period, mermaids became conflated with the sirens of Ancient Greek mythology. Sirens were portrayed as human-headed birds, and were described by Homer as having the ability to use singing as a lure. When the change of the siren from a bird to a fish occurred is unclear, but by the 11th century sirens were described as mermaids in the Old German Physiologus.
In historical texts, mermaids are often described as unlucky, with their appearance foreboding a poor catch or a storm in Nordic mythology and British folklore. Early stories ascribe mermaids great wisdom. In other tellings, mermaids are tricksters that lure sailors into the sea.
In popular culture, mermaids are often depicted as kind and wishing to partake in land-locked human relationships. Sometimes, the mermaids can have healing powers. They are often depicted as having beautiful, colourful fins and a lovely singing voice.
In our story about Mandy the Mermaid in the Stella app, Mandy is the daughter of the mer-queen. She loves having sleep-overs with her friends, and in this story, Mandy and her friend Charlie Clownfish fall asleep in a magical anemone. Make sure to subscribe to the Stella app to partake of our full content library, including Mandy the Mermaid! Try it tonight!