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A Story From: Scotland
Read Time: ["6 to 10mins"]
For Ages: 8 to 10yrs., 12 to 14yrs.

Only Janet can save Thomalyn from being sacrificed by the Fairies.
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First mentioned in a Scottish ballad book, Vederburns Complaint of Scotland, 1549. An oft-referenced version is "Child Ballad #39A" from The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 1882-1898, by Francis James Child. The tale also appears in Scandinavia.

Retold by Elaine L. Lindy. ©2006.  All rights reserved.


The original story, considered ancient, is a staple in many folk tale collections. "In most folk tales," according to storyteller Nancy Schimmel, "the woman or girl plays a passive role, waiting to be rescued or, at most, helping her male rescuer by her special knowledge of her captor. Women with power tend to have secondary roles - wicked stepmother, fairy godmother."  Whereas in this story, Janet herself is the rescuer.

The character of Janet sometimes appears as "Margaret," "Lady Margaret," or "Burd Janet." The character of Thomalyn also appears as "Tam Lin," "Tam Line," "Tamlin," "Young Thomlin," "Thomalyn," or "Tam Lane."

Our modern-day Halloween evolved from an ancient Celtic celebration on November 1st.  On that day, the Celtics celebrated a New Year that honored the sun god and Samhain (pronounced so-wane), the Lord of the Dead.  The night before, October 31st, was called Samhein Eve.  Over time, the Christians chose November 1 to honor Christians who died at the hands of the Romans.  In the first 200 years in American, many Protestant settlers rejected the holiday of Halloween along with other feasts on the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.  Today Halloween is the second most profitable holiday to American business, second only to Christmas.