For as long as stories have been told fairies have always played a very important role in capturing the imagination of both children and adults. Fairies are believed to be magical creatures that involve themselves in human affairs although they are only very rarely seen by humans. There are only three exceptions to this rule. The first is if fairies themselves use their magical powers to enable humans to see them. The second is during a full moon on Midsummer Eve the humans may be able to witness the fairies dances and celebrations. The third way by which a human can see a fairy is by looking through a stone in which a hole has been made as a result of tumbling in the waters of a brook.
There are many stories about the origin of fairies. One popular belief was that they were the ghosts of the dead. Another view held that they were a species in themselves and could be distinguished form both humans and angels. Some people believed that they were demoted angels. They had been thrown out of heaven but were not bad enough to go to hell. One interesting story about the origin of fairies can be found in the stories of Peter Pan. According to this theory when the first baby laughed for the first time his laugh broke into a million pieces and they all went skipping about. Each piece then became a fairy.
Legends about fairies are endless in number. In many legends fairies come and kidnap human babies and leave changelings in their place. Sometimes they bestow on newborn infants gifts like beauty, wealth and kindness. Other legends deal with fairies falling in love with humans and kidnapping them away from their earthly lovers. Many stories deal with disappointed humans receiving payment in the form of fairy gold. Fairy gold could not be trusted because it would appear as gold when the fairies used it as payment but as soon as the fairies disappeared it would transform into some very useless thing like leaves or grass. There are tales that revolve around protection from the mischief of fairies by using cold iron and charms. Fairies were said to consider iron as poison and never go near it. Fairies commonly used their magic powers to disguise themselves. Thus they were able to fool humans and get away with their mischief or perform their good deeds without being recognized until they had left the place of action.
Fairies have been depicted in various ways over time. In the earlier days fairies did not have wings. They always flew around on the backs of birds or on ragwort stems. They were depicted in two ways either as tall radiant angelic beings or as short wizened trolls. Modern day interpretations show fairies as young small beautiful human like creatures with wings attached to them.
It is believed that witnessing a fairy funeral is an omen of death and that someone beloved to the person who is watching the funeral or he himself will soon be no more.