The Creature of the Month series explores the folktales that inspired Tales from Little Lucilinburhuc.
The most beloved folktale in Luxembourg by far is the tale of Melusina (in English here), who agrees to marry Count Siegfried, legendary founder of Luxembourg, if only he will promise to leave her alone to bath one day a month. Siegfried breaks his promise by spying on her through a keyhole and learns that Melusina is in fact a mermaid. When she realizes her husband knows her secret, Melusina casts herself into the river never to be seen again.
Melusina’s story was so beloved that the nobility in Luxembourg once attempted to prove that they were her direct descendants. She has appeared in art, music, children’s books, and a movie. Every child in Luxembourg learns of her in school. Her story is by all accounts a national treasure.
But she is not the only mermaid in Luxembourgish folklore.
Lurking beneath the waters of the river Sauer there is another mermaid, less well-known, and much more sinister. Read her story below.
The Mermaid and the Little Skipper
Once upon a time there was an unfortunate boatman, referred to as the Little Skipper, who one moonlit night after a rich catch wanted to navigate through the dense weir located in Moersdorf, and thus met his death beneath the waves. According to legend, the mermaid who lived in the weir was furious with this fisherman in particular because he caught her fat trout in large quantities and caused a great deal of damage to her home with the constant pounding of the sharp iron tip attached to the pole used to propel his ship. Then, in her wrath, she pulled him into the flood waters. Since then, many people have heard a fisherman struggle with the foaming waves each night in an attempt to navigate the weir. They couldn’t see a thing; they could only hear the pounding and churning of the ship’s pole, which nearly lasted all night long for nights on end. The nightly fisherman didn’t harm anyone, but he did chase away the overly curious with insults and threats.
Source: Nicolas Gredt, Sagenschatz des Luxemburger Landes, #76