“The Twelve Dancing Princesses” is a classic fairytale that is also known as “The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes” or “The Shoes that were Danced to Pieces.” While the German version was the first to be published by the Brothers Grimm in 1815, French, Russian, and Scottish versions also exist.
In this classic story that centers around the idea of truth, twelve princesses are discovered to be secretly dancing every night, even though they are locked in their rooms. The king, their father, offers the hand of one of his daughters in marriage to anyone who can uncover the truth behind their nightly excursions.
A soldier accepts the king’s challenge and is given a special cloak that makes him invisible. He follows the princesses into an underground world where they dance with twelve princes. The soldier discovers the truth about the princesses’ secret activities, and as a result, he is offered the hand of the eldest princess in marriage.
The theme of truth in this story is multi-faceted. On one level, the tale is about uncovering the truth behind the princesses’ secret activities. The soldier does this by being clever and resourceful. He uses the tools at his disposal, such as the cloak of invisibility, to gain access to the princesses’ world and observe their activities. By being patient and persistent, he uncovers the truth about their nightly dances.
On another level, the tale is about the importance of honesty and transparency in relationships. The princesses in the story are not truthful with their father, the king, about their nightly activities. They sneak out of their rooms and deceive him, which is ultimately revealed to be a symptom of their desire for independence and freedom. While their motives are understandable, their lack of honesty leads to mistrust and suspicion from their father.
In contrast, the soldier is honest and forthright with the king about what he discovers. He doesn’t keep the truth hidden or deceive the king in any way.
This fairytale teaches us the importance of honesty and transparency in our relationships. As John 8:32 says, “the truth will set you free.” By being truthful with ourselves and with those around us, we can build trust and strengthen our connections with others. Just like the soldier in “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” we too can be set free by the power of truth.