How can I live like a legend


As Legend is a narrative type of text that is related to fairy tales, sagas, myths and fables. The legend meant in its original meaning a reading from the life and work of a saint, which was usually given on his anniversary. Later, all stories in prose or verse that told the life of a saint or revolved around a religious event that were historically intangible were included under the term.


The term comes from Latin (legend) and can be approximated with that to be read translate. The translation therefore refers to the original function: namely, reading aloud from the life of a saint on his name day in the service. Later, however, not only the lecture, but also the writing itself was summarized under the concept of the legend.

So the legend always revolves around the life of a saint or a religious event. It is also this feature that essentially distinguishes the text type from other genres and thus makes them distinguishable. In structure, the whole thing resembles the legend, but it can also have non-religious content as its core and tell of heroes or anecdotally about individual personalities.


Overview: essential characteristics of the text type
  • Legends are stories of saints that were originally conveyed verbally and thus presented. The name was ultimately transferred to the reading material itself. It is either about saints who led godly and exemplary lives or about significant religious events (Miracles, healings, fights etc.).
  • The protagonists of such narratives are therefore martyrs, order donors, saints, apostles, monks, faith healers or even Mary and Jesus himself. Thus, the Apocrypha, i.e. texts that were not included in the Bible canon, but have religious events or people on the topic, also belong (e.g. the book of Ezra or the book of the Maccabees) to.
  • The locations and actors of a legend are usually named by name, which is why it is communicated quite specifically who is acting in the text. This feature is also shared by the type of text and the legend, whereas it is an essential difference to the fairy tale, whose scenes and characters often represent stereotypes.
  • Basically, two forms can be identified: the legend of saints and the legend of the people. The legend of the saints serves the religious as well as moral edification and the instruction of the people. The folk legend is a simple form related to folk tale. This is not necessarily part of the Christian faith, but still has exemplary actors.
  • Legends always have a historical core because they bring a significant figure or event to the fore. The folk legend, which also produced the forms of epic legends, miracles and game of legends, however, often overlaid the historical with exaggerated representations, which is why the real core faded into the background.


  • Well-known legends from the Christian faith

    • Popess Johanna: Was born around 850 and stood out at an early age for her wisdom. Dressed up as a boy and gained prestige, which is why she ultimately rose to become Pope. Allegedly gave birth to a child during a holy procession, prompting the shocked bystanders to unceremoniously stone her to death. In other texts she dies with the birth of the child.

    • Martin of Tours: In the winter of 334, Martin is said to have met an unclothed man. Without further ado, he drew his sword and shared his own cloak to share with the man. Numerous miracles and healings are ascribed to him. We remember him on Martin's Day.

    • Nicholas of Myra: Nicholas was Bishop of Myra in the fourth century. Allegedly he once helped the people to an unexpected delivery of grain to satisfy their hunger. He is certainly one of the most famous saints, which is why we still clean our shoes at the beginning of December and have St. Nicholas fill them for us.

Wandering legends

There are numerous mythological contents, fabulous deeds and legendary actions in history and literature. Sometimes it happens that the same content is ascribed to different people or the plot is the same and only the scene changes. This peculiarity also applies to anecdotes (Hiking anecdote) and old wives' tales.

A classic example of such a wandering story is, for example, the student who allegedly left a blank page on the essay question "What is courage" and merely pointed out that it was courage and got a straight one. This story goes around in almost every school.

In the context of religious events we can take the example of spontaneous ignition choose. This legend is particularly important in Hinduism. So it was Shivas, a high deity, first wife of Sati, who went up in flames out of anger when she and Shiva were not invited to a celebration of her father Daksha. Since then there have been all sorts of alleged reports on the subject, with no evidence whatsoever that such an inflammation is even possible. So history wanders.

Note: In the context of the wandering legend, it is actually difficult to separate the term from similar areas. The term is sometimes used synonymously with the hiking anecdote or the big city legend as well as the urban legends. In principle, however, the type of text can be delimited.

Difference: Legend, fairy tale, saga, fable, myth

Probably the greatest difficulty in relation to the legend is very often the distinction between similar, related types of text. The legend resembles above all the fairy tale, the saga, the fable and furthermore the myth. In the following we would like to show the differences between the genres.

  • Fable: Fables are made up and were written by an author, with no specific information about time and space. In the fable, animals act and, to a certain extent, represent humans. The fable ends with a punch line and is mostly instructive. The protagonists are usually not clear characters, but stereotypes that embody certain characteristics.

  • Fairy tale: Are also fictitious, differ in Folk tales(continues) and Art fairy tale (by an author). Fairy tales take place outside of space and time, which is why no specific time and place information is given. The staff of the fairy tale is more typical, there are seldom specific people (The princess, the wolf, the wicked witch).

  • Myth: In a sense, a myth explains the world. Most of all, we are familiar with Greek or Roman mythology today. Facts and connections are explained by gods, heroes or mythical creatures, such as the creation of the world or life after death.

  • Legend: Is transmitted orally and deals with specific people, times or locations. The legend therefore has a very high claim to reality, which is why the people involved are named very precisely. Mythical creatures do occur, but they can be recognized as such.

  • Legend: The difference between saga and legend is small. In principle, the same characteristics apply. It is essential, however, that legends always tell of saints. Of course, they always refer to a specific person or a clear event, which is why the demand for reality is equally high. So they are mostly based on a person's biography.