A socio-literary exhibition entitled The Maltese Cinderella and the Women’s Storytelling Tradition is taking place until April 11 at Il-Ħaġar Museum, Victoria.

Cultural anthropologist and art historian/archaeologist Veronica Veen discovered the Gozitan story about il-Germudija, a special variant of the Cinderella fairy tale, in 1992, giving her an incentive to study the socio-cultural importance of fairy tales. Told by ‘common’ but often experienced and wise people, these stories are deeply rooted in the relations and contradictions of a society and a period. 

They can deal with these frictions in often entertaining narratives, giving perspective, hope and solace to people who are excluded and ‘not seen’, particularly women and girls, who are unfortunately often still in need of improvement of their position.

This may explain why a story about a ‘degraded’ girl such as Cinderella, who eventually achieved a happy life, became popular around the world. Significantly, it was foremost women who told it and later also studied and commented on it. 

In feminist circles this gave rise to criticism of certain domestic, dependent and passive aspects of the heroine and the inevitable marriage as a happy end. However, they failed to see it in the social, ‘living’ context, and what fairy tales traditionally are all about. Especially in Malta, the heroine is all but passive and takes her fate firmly in her own hands, says Dr Veen.

The exhibition about the Gozitan il-Germudija story is open at Il-Ħaġar Museum, 2nd floor, St George’s Square, Victoria, daily from 9am to 5pm until April 11. Veronica Veen will give a guided tour of the exhibition/and conduct workshops tomorrow from 2.30 to 4.30pm. To book the tour/workshop, call 7963 9775,

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