Molbo story

Molbo story

A molbo story is a tale about molboers, the inhabitants of Molboland. Geographically this is an area called Mols in Denmark, typically a kind of an ethnic joke. The folklore tales of the molboers called molbohistorier (molbo stories) have existed in Denmark at least since the 18th century. The first 13 molbostories were published in the book Beretning om de vidtbekiendte Molboers vise Gierninger og tapre Bedrifter (tales of the wellknown molboers wise and brave actions) in 1771 by the publisher Christian Elovius Magnor, who by permission of the Danish king Christian VII had started the printing press viborg bogtrykkeri in the Danish city of Viborg. This folklore was originally passed on by oral tradition, so its original authors and those who collected these stories for publishing is not known today. Many new molbostories have subsequently been made and published by other publishers. Norway was at the time part of the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway and as such was culturally influenced by Denmark, which probably helped to spread the stories across the kingdom. In molbohistorier all inhabitants of Molboland are portrayed as really stupid, and as such the word molbo is sometimes used to denote a stupid person in Norwegian and Danish. Molbohistorier have been published in many children's books mostly in Norwegian and Danish, but also in German, Spanish, French and English.

Here is an example molbo story quoted from Molbohistorier gamle og nye, by Oskar Braaten, Aschehougs utvalgte for barn nr. 11, Oslo 1941:

The molbos have a long way to the forest so they must rise early to collect wood. One morning some of them drove to the forest to bring home a tree they had bought. But on the way the one who drove first happened to lose his axe, and when the others saw that, they thought he threw it away on purpose, so they threw away their axes as well. Now, as they stood in the forest, they had nothing with which to chop, they didn't know what to do at all, and they certainly didn't want to come home empty-handed. Finally one of them had the brilliant idea to pull the tree down; but as they hadn't brought a rope, one of them had to climb the tree and lay his head in the cleavage between two branches then the others were to pull his legs until the tree yielded. Very well, they pulled and they pulled, and eventually they all fell backwards, including the chap they had been pulling, only he had no head. This they couldn't fathom, they went searching and searching, but no, they didn't find the head, because it was stuck in the tree. Well, that couldn't be helped, now it was time to return home. And so they laid the headless man in the wagon and took him home to his wife and asked if she was sure that her husband had brought his head when he left home this morning. "I can't remember that right now!", said the wife; but then she thought for a while: "Oh yes, he did bring his head!" she said. "He ate cabbage with it this morning before he left."

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