A prickly tale

by Gail Emerson September 21, 2016

How the hedgehog saved the world

DM Hedgehog illustration

The prickly Hedgehog features in many myths and instructive tales across Europe. It is not depicted as an unpleasant spiky character, reflected in Daniel's illustration where he softens the spines into meadowy clover. 

The small creature is said to have helped create the Earth in a tale from some parts of the Balkans. It is also thought the American weather-predicting Groundhog Day was based on a European custom conducted with hedgehogs (which the founding fathers found were not native to the New World). The hedgehog's protruding spikes were even used by Freud to illustrate the inevitable pain of getting close to others, referred to as the Hedgehog's Dilemma. It's in this tale from Bulgaria that the hedgehog really plays the hero:

The Sun and the Moon were planning to get married and have a large family. All the animals were invited to the wedding. But just as the ceremony was about to start, the Sun noticed his great friend the Hedgehog wasn't there. He couldn't imagine why he would miss the occasion. Concerned, the Sun went to look for his spiky friend. 

He was very surprised to find the grub-eating hedgehog attempting to chew on a rock. 'Have you forgotten its my wedding?' the Sun asked. 

'Not at all,' replied the Hedgehog. 'Your wedding is what I'm thinking of and I know you will go on to have many Sun children.'

'So why are eating a rock instead of celebrating?' cried the Sun. 

'I'm just trying to get prepared. Your children will roast the earth and leave us with nothing but rocks to eat,' replied the Hedgehog. 

Then the Sun saw that he should not marry and procreate, but continue with the Moon in just the right balance for the world. And that is how the humble Hedgehog came to save the world. 

Shop Daniel's Hedgehog design as greeting card, art print, coaster or placemat sets. 

Explore the entire DM Woodland Collection.

Gail Emerson
Gail Emerson


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