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Someşul and Crişul


Tale typology
Local traditions

Age Suitability

Tale summary
The story behind the two rivers begins with two brothers, raised by a single mother, since their dad had fallen during an invasion. The brothers were skilled, hard-working shepherds, and during a severe drought, they decided to take their sheep further up the mountain, to find a suitable pasture. There, they met the daughter of a witch, who warned them about her mother’s intentions to kill them for their audacity to trespass her land. With the help of an enchanted leaf, they manage to stay awake and fight off the two fiends sent to destroy them, the brother of the witch and a one-horned deer. However, they both touch the broken horn of the deer and they turn into springs of water.
Educational potential / Learning Outcomes
This tale has a high educational potential from the following points of view:
1. Contains basic / age-adapted knowledge about Romanian geography, especially about how the Somes and Cris rivers (located in the Apuseni Mountains, in the Western part of Romania) were formed.
2. Introduces key words related to cultural / geographical / historical aspects.
3. Introduces basic knowledge and experience learning about values related to courage, loving and taking care of duties, faith, inheritance, dedication, bravery and belief in magic and magical appearances.
4. The tale can help the children understand that in situations of distress, it is important never to lose hope, to always seek answers and to ask for help. This can be a self-esteem-boosting experience.
Full Plot
In the old days, old as the stories themselves, there was a beautiful and young boy at the foot of Mount Vlădeasa. Bogdan was his name. The mountain with fir forests and pastures were all in his possession. The time had come for him to get married, but a little while after he brought his girl to his home, the enemies crossed the borders, lit the city on fire, and killed him.
The girl escaped death, and after she saved her remaining flocks from her enemies, she went up the mountain. There, in the place called today Bogdăneasa, she built a hut. It was here that a couple of days later two twin children were born, both boys. And, as the story says, they grew stronger in a day`s time as others did in two, and they grew beautiful, that it was a real pleasure to look at them.
The children loved sheep and being shepherds and they could not wait for the winters to pass to roam around the hills with their flocks. In the summer, they used to take their flocks to the pasture through the nearby lawns, and as the sheep grazed, gentle and quiet, they used to play the alphorn and the whistle. The shepherds were playing so beautifully that the springs stopped their whisper and flow, and the birds ceased flying and crowded around them, listening to their song.
A while passed like that, but during one summer a great drought came, and, in the absence of pasture, the sheep began to starve. So the brothers planned to move their flocks further until they would find some better pasture.
One morning they said goodbye to their mother and set off.
At the top of the mountain, they found good pasture and plenty of water. They set their stable there and, allowing the sheep to feast on the grass, they began to build their hut. The day passed quickly and in the evening, when the sheep were gathered, the boys built a fire, to cook some food. But the fire hadn’t even started being built, when a strong wind began to blow and the brothers felt suddenly very sleepy. When they woke up, it was already another day, at noon. The sheep were starving in the stable, and the dogs barely could stand on their feet. The brothers looked at each other and then counted their sheep. Seeing that none was missing, they felt relieved. They cleaned themselves and then they took their sheep out to the pasture. After a while, they forgot about their concerns and began to play the whistle. And as they were playing like that, thinking about their mother, a beautiful girl came to them from out of nowhere looking like a princess. The shepherds ceased their playing, and they stood there, looking astonished at the girl. She came to them, and said angrily:
"Bad idea you boys had, to have come here! This pasture is my mother's land, and she is a witch, you can hardly escape her vengeance. I saw you yesterday and I liked you. I have now come to help you and tell you how to keep away from my mother's spells. He who is more worthy of you will take me as his wife. So now, listen. Mom sent last night "Sleep" to you, so that you sleep forever. I felt sorry for you and stole some of it, so she could not hurt you. Now my mother is angry, and tonight she will send "Sleep" to you again. But be not afraid, since it cannot hurt you anymore. In the morning, she will send my brother to fight you, and if you can defeat him, then she will also send the one-horned deer. This creature has a horn in the forehead. That is its power. If you can cut the horn, then you will be safe. After having said these words, the girl gave them a leaf and said:
- Whoever wipes this leaf on his forehead will not fall asleep and will remain awake and strong. But be careful, only one wipe with the leaf is enough every evening; should you wipe your forehead with it twice, it will lose its magic powers.
One of the brothers took the leaf and was just about to thank the girl, but she disappeared as swiftly as she had appeared. The day passed like any other day, and in the evening, after they gathered the sheep, the youngest brother said:
"Please, give me the leaf tonight and you rest, I want to test my strength with the witch's son!"
"All right, little brother," said the other, "but you are younger and weaker than me, and I would be sorry to see you defeated by the beast. You had better rest and leave your concerns aside.
"Just do as I ask, brother, allow me to try tonight, and then tomorrow will be your turn, too.
The older brother looked at the younger one lovingly, then pulled out the leaf and said:
- Here you have it, brother, and may God help you!
He barely finished his words and the wind began to blow, and Sleep sneaked again, making the brothers feel sleepy. The little brother pulled out the leaf and wiped his forehead once with it. Soon he felt his mind clearing and his power growing. The wind began to blow even worse. The dogs began to run all over the place, barking angrily, while the sheep were restless in the stable. Then the shepherd stood up, as his brother was sleeping like a rock and spoke calmly to the sheep, then called his dogs to him. The sheep, hearing their master's voice, calmed down and the dogs approached, barking cheerfully and grinning. After midnight, the dogs began to bark again under the moonlight and the shepherd saw a man slowly approaching the stable. The shepherd quickly grabbed his staff and stood up. The stranger approached the sheepfold and tried to open the gate. The dogs approached him, barking angrily, but in the blink of an eye, they became forever silent. The shepherd approached the gate and shouted:
”What are you doing there, you? If you are a wayfaring stranger, come rest by the fire and leave the sheep alone, but if not, then know that you have found your match!
- What did you say, brother? Say that again!
-Well, I asked you to come in peace, or else I will have you know you have found your match!
- Well, well, well, you sorry thing, you ran out of luck, but if you are as tough as you claim, then let us fight!
The shepherd immediately understood whom he was dealing with, but he was not afraid. He made the sign of the cross to praise God, and then went to the stranger and started fighting it. The beast was furious and spat fire everywhere, but the shepherd did not quit. The struggle continued until dawn, and then the shepherd felt the bane’s strength weakening. He struggled a few more times to beat the shepherd, but the shepherd did what he did and slammed the creature to the ground. It was dead, but the boy was so tired that he barely could walk. He slowly crawled to the spring and washed himself. In the meantime, the older brother awakened, but he had slept so profoundly that he was even weaker than the brother who had fought the beast. It was a hard day for them, for they mourned the dogs that had been slain. In the evening, the other brother took the leaf, and after rubbing his forehead, he was in watch until midnight. Suddenly he heard a wild howl. He jumped up in a hurry and grabbed the club, looking suspiciously everywhere. After some time, he saw a deer coming in, who instead of two horns had only one. The shepherd aimed for its horn for a few times, then spun the club in the air and tossed it with such power that he tore off the horn. The one-horned deer got scared and ran back to where it had come from. Then the shepherd ran to the place where the club had landed, and there he saw the horn that the deer had left behind. He grabbed it, but he did not have time to look at it, for in the next moment he became a spring. The horn was enchanted, and whoever would take in their hand would turn into a spring. The witch's girl had forgotten to tell the brothers not to touch it.
Not long afterward, the younger brother also woke up and, after not seeing his brother anywhere, he began to look for him. As he was walking around, he saw the club and the horn. He grabbed the horn, and the next moment he turned into another spring.
The witch had gotten her revenge.
Since then, the big brother's stream is named Someș, flowing smoothly, and the spring that was the little brother is named Criș, this one flowing rapidly, as if running in the search for the lost brother. Both Someş and Criş have springs in the Mount Vlădeasa. And the place where the horn fell is called today Cornul Cerboaii, "The Deer Horn".
One Lesson Plan
Suggested activities to involve and challenge the pre-school pupils and develop their cognitive, pre-cognitive and creative skills.
The parent who presented the story brought a real bludgeon and handmade puppets, images about the rivers and about mount Vladeasa. The children enjoyed the story and felt justice had been done when the two brothers eliminated the Sleep, the Dragon and the One-Horned Deer.
Children may be invited to share similar experiences where they did not lose hope and kept seeking the truth. Role-playing games are an important tool in the development of creativity and social skills; therefore, we strongly recommend activities that involve placing the children in the tale’s characters’ shoes. Our suggested activity is to challenge children to create a layout out of a mountain and two rivers of recycled materials. In addition, they could also to visit a sheepfold during a trip and learn things related to it (how to whistle to gather the sheep, how to call the dog, how to milk a sheep, watch and learn how sheep are getting a haircut).


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