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The story of the three Criș brothers


Tale typology
Local traditions

Age Suitability

Tale summary
The story of the three Criș brothers depicts the events behind the formation of three Romanian rivers, Crișul Alb, Crișul Negru and Crișul Repede. It is said that the three rivers were once three brothers, all skilled hunters. While returning from a hunt, they encountered a girl at a fountain, and all three of them fell for her. Deciding to find out which of them was to be her husband, they return after some time to ask her, only to discover that the village had been destroyed by three giants who had come to steal, kill and live there. With the help of three enchanted axes, they overpower the giants, allowing thus the villagers to return to their lands, but the price of retrieving the stolen goods was them metamorphosing into the three rivers.
Educational potential / Learning Outcomes
• Get learners familiarized with rivers in Romania
• Raising awareness that there is good and bad in every person/character; negative characters get punished in the end; positive characters go through many turning points before achieving their goals.
Full Plot
A long time ago, three brothers lived in a hut on the mountain. They were the sons of a widow - the Criș widow.

Their mother had named one of them Alb (White), for he had white skin as the milk’s foam. The other one was named Negru (Black), because his eyes were dark and he also had a dark complexion. And the last one was named Repede (Fast), because he was short-tempered and quickly became enraged.

All three were hunters. They used to roam dense forests, fighting beasts. And then they exchanged food for furs when they returned to town.

One day the brothers stopped in the field, in the shade of some white chestnut trees, where there was a fountain with cold and clear water. A girl was drawing water from it. The boys asked for the bucket, to drink some water and quench their thirst. The girl raised the bucket and gave them water and the boys looked her in the eyes. She was so beautiful that immediately all three of them fell for her. She had a white face, silky black pigtails, sparkling eyes and her voice was so soft, and she said:

"Come, brave boys, and drink!" her words sounded, to the ears of the three strong boys, like a beautiful song or the whispers of a nightingale.
The brothers went away, but they couldn’t get their minds off Florica, the girl of the old Novac, who was the beasts’ fear around that place.
The boys returned there after a while; then again and again for the fire of love was burning them all.

After a while, lost in thoughts, they didn’t return anymore. They discussed what was there to be done, and since they did not reach an agreement, they thought that asking their mother would be better, since who else but mothers wants the best for their children? And their mother, smiling, said:

You should ask the girl first. You are all handsome and strong. But only one is dear to her. That one she will want as husband; the rest will be good brothers. Then the chosen one would ask Florica from her father, old Novac.

The boys could barely wait for the night to pass. At dawn they went to see Florica. But as they got closer they saw smoke coming out of the villages and groans of pain were heard. Then they began to see people fleeing for the mountains, to take shelter. The brothers stopped one of the people and asked him what was going on. The man could barely control his fear and told them that three giants holding torches had come to the village at moonrise. They burned all the food and dried up springs. Through the charms known only by them, they took grains and cattle and sheep, leaving the people to starve. They then took the lands, the copper, the gold and the iron. All of that was locked in some mountains under three large stone blocks that can only be broken by brave men. The runaway could barely draw his breath, but he managed to say that if any brave men would try to get the goods back, they would be cursed by the giants and turn – God forbid – into water.
With their hearts beating as if they had jumped out of their chests, the brave men asked the runaway why had the village men not confronted the giants. How had famous Novac let himself be defeated?
With sorrow and tears, the fugitive said that Florica had told her father that she would marry. She said she had chosen as a husband one of the Criş brothers, the sons of a widow from the mountains. Novac was glad and happily drank a barrel of wine. He fell asleep and the giants found the man and cut him while he was sleeping, and Florica was taken as a slave.
The words of the fugitive broke the hearts of the three brothers, but they looked at each other, without saying a word, and decided to go and face the giants, even at the cost of their lives.
In the distance, the roar and laughter of the giants who were having fun at the top of their three mountains could be heard. After some time, the giants went to sleep until it was full moon again. Then they went back in the towns to burn, slaughter and kill.
The Criș brothers walked for a while and here they find, along the road, an old man who was hammering metal on an anvil. Surprised that the old man had not run into the woods, the brothers asked him what he was doing. The elder, jokingly, replied:
Well, I'm making good axes. And I would make even better ones, if you brought me the copper staff, the iron boots and the golden crown from the bear king. I could, afterwards, teach some mighty men to overcome the giants if they wanted to…
The boys agreed at once to go but first asked how and what they were required to do.
The old man told the brave men to go into the woods and gather resin from some fir trees. Then, from the resin, they would have to make a honeycomb but much harder and much bigger than a normal one... With it, the brothers walked into a nearby forest. They arrived at the bear king, they knelt before him holding the honeycomb, and said:
"The fame of your power, your mightiness, has spread all over the world. That's why we honor you and bring this honeycomb.
The emperor, greedily, tried to taste the honey, but not before telling his soldiers that when he would finish the meal, all three boys were to be taken.
But as he shoved his nose and his claws in the honeycomb, he got stuck in the resin and could not make any sound or signal to the counselor so he was powerless. The other bears believed that the Emperor called them to taste the honey but, as they took a bite, they all remained trapped and glued, as powerless as the king bear. So the mighty brothers defeated them easily, took the copper stick, the iron boots and the golden crown and ran back to the old wise man.
The old man built a fire from the firs from which the boys had gathered the resin, and in the fire and then on the anvil, he made three axes: a golden one for Alb, an iron one for Negru and a copper one for Repede. Then he told them that in a few days, there would be a full moon again, and the giants would light their torches one more time. The axes were enchanted, and with them, they would have to strike the torches first; then they will be able to overpower the giants. The old man indicated the way to the mountains where the giants were, and the brothers began their journey to free the world from the three beasts ...
They walked for two days and got tired at the foot of the three mountains. The place was scorched by fire; only in the valley, there was a rose with red flowers like blood and a breathtaking scent. Tired as they were, they decided to sleep near the rose, to gain their strengths. And they fell asleep by the time they finished speaking.
In their dreams, Florica appeared with a pale face and said:
"The giants have taken me as slave, my dears. One wanted me to be his wife. In the evening of the wedding day, to get rid of him, I threw myself from the top of the mountain. And in the place where I fell, a red rose grew. You are to avenge us and kill the giants.
The boys awakened instantly. In the sky, the moon was just arising. The giants, whose fortress was on three mountains, came out and lit their torches, smashing large stones together and deciding where to start the destruction this time.
The three brave men carefully climbed the mountains towards the giants, giving each other a signal and suddenly launching their assault... The axes crafted by the old man were enchanted. The three brothers hit the torches with their axes and the sparks burned the giants’ cheeks and blinded them. The giants screamed in pain and reached out to catch the brave boys. The fight started and the charmed axes seemed to have their own will and fight by themselves.
Grievously wounded, the giants begged for mercy and they promised to give the boys money, had they spared their lives.
The angry and brave boys replied that they would not spare them, just as the giants had not spared any of the innocent lives that they had taken... and attacked the giants even more fiercely. For days and nights, they struggled hard. The giants fell and died under the combined strength of the three axes.
When the news came that the Criș brothers had overcome the giants, people descended from the mountains, eager to build new houses and start a new life. But their joy did not last long. Soon they realized that they had no tool to work the lands, because the copper, the iron, the gold, the crops and the water from the springs were all locked in the three mountains... and only the giants could open them.
Then the Criș brothers remembered that only three strong boys would be able to undo the bad deeds, but only if they would willingly turn into water. They decided, without any hesitation, to bring the abundance back to the lands. Looking at each other, they shook hands and raised their axes.
The first one, Repede, struck the padlock of one of the vaults in the mountain. In a second, the boy turned into water, and the water poured over the gates of stone and they were knocked down in a moment. Then Negru struck another mountain lock. Negru turned into a dark water stream that struck the mountain powerfully, breaking other stone gates. Alb hit the last padlock and the water in which the oldest brother turned broke the last gates and unlocked the treasure of the giants.
There was so much gold, copper and iron there in the mountains, that people have yet to make plows, hammers or ornaments out of all the metal.
And all that time, the waters of the three rivers flowed down the mountains, spreading abundantly to the plains. People praise the rivers when the fruits and vegetables fill their fields or gardens.
On the banks, there are girls that throw flowers in the water and women begin to sing.
I wonder if there are anymore such rivers in this country like the three Criş rivers, Repede, Alb and Negru?
One Lesson Plan
Title: The three brothers Criş
Domain: Sciences, Knowledge of the environment Type of activity: consolidation
Aim: Consolidate the learners knowledge of water regions in Romania; Develop civic sense and awareness of moral values.

O1: identify the three rivers on the map: Crişul Mare, Crişul Repede and Crişul Negru;
O2: list four main ideas of the story, using the presented images;
O3: name the negative and positive characters, arguing their choice;
O4: formulate/identify the ethics of the story.
The educator shows a 3D map to the learners; they use it to identify the three rivers in the story. The name of one of the three rivers has been intentionally modified. The learners are not told about this change; nonetheless, if no learner identifies the mistake, the educator tells them about it.
Carrying out the activity:
- present background information about the three rivers;
- read the story, using appropriate props; pause your reading once in a while to explain unfamiliar terms;
- ask learners to enumerate main ideas using various props;
- define the binary categorization of characters, i.e. positive and negative;
- ask learners to identify the moral of story; the teacher provides the learners with various hints on the ethics of the story;
Ending the activity:
- The teacher and the learners sing a song about the three rivers;
- The teachers provides the learners with positive feedback;


Partners' Institution
VšĮ "eMundus"
Author of the comments
Edita Rudminaite
LT Ši pasaka moko pažinti savo gamtą ir diegia patriotines ir moralines vertybes vaikams, lavina suvokimą apie tai, kad yra gera ir yra bloga. Ši pasaka ilga, yra burtai, kova iki mirties, meilės tema, narsūs žmonės (broliai, kurie pasakos pabaigoje virto upėmis, nes tik taip galėjo sugrąžinti kaimo gyventojams milžinų pagrobtus turtus), tad tinkamesnė vyresniems vaikams.

EN This fairy-tale teaches to cognize the nature of your country, spreads the patriotic and moral values for kids, educates them what is good and what is bad. This fairy-tale is long, there are spells, fight till death, the theme of love and brave men (brothers who turn to rivers because just in such way they could return for their village people the wealth which was stolen by giants). So, this fairy-tale better fits for bigger children.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

The TIK - Tradition & Innovation @ Kindergarten project © 2018