Why do people believe in unicorns

UNICORNS: From the rainbow to all over the world

UNICORNS: From the rainbow to all over the world

In fairy tales, it takes bravery and cunning to capture this mythical creature. Martin Luther smuggled it into the Bible. And it is still alive today: on all kinds of products.

Bettina Kugler

It warms the hands and makes them cuddly soft and fragrant. At least that's what the imprint of the silver crèmetube from the Far East that Antonia found in her Advent calendar promises. On the label, a chubby horse jumps towards the rainbow. It has pink stars on its bottom, a pastel-colored mane and an equally delicately colored tail. Pink and glitter: girl stuff! Not even the stately twisted horn on the head looks really dangerous. If it could neigh, it would surely say: I'm not fat, just fluffy.

The cute little animal is one of the many, many (!) Unicorns that have trotted our way over the last few months and just as unmistakably "Buy me!" have begged. With success. As mythical creatures, they have long been immortal, and there may have been a film almost forty years ago called “The Last Unicorn”. Anyone who has watched it to the end (because it is quite sad for a children's film, and it is teeming with terrible monsters), at least knows: the unicorn manages to bring back its disappeared conspecifics. Well, and many companies made a lot of money with it over the past year.

Unicorn for everyone: on underpants, sausage and air mattresses

There was almost nothing left without a unicorn on it: sweaters, shirts and underpants, chocolate, gummy bears, sausage. Unicorns made of fabric, plush, plastic. Unicorn air mattresses. Unicorns on the phone, as emojis. But that's not all: If you like, you can also drink unicorn puke and nibble whatever else they secrete. And if you are nowhere on the move without a unicorn ... we have read that there should already be shopping centers with a special unicorn parking lot. Pretty crazy! Still, to be honest:

We have not yet sighted a real, living one. First of all, one hears about unicorns in fairy tales and magical stories. The fact that people thought for a long time that they really existed in biblical times is due to Martin Luther. A mistake happened to him while translating the Bible. What was meant was probably a bull or an aurochs. It is easy to confuse unicorns with antelopes and rhinos: the second horn cannot be seen from the side.

Poison drunk from the horn loses its effect

Unicorns have been mentioned in books before. For example, the Greek Ktesias of Knidos reports around the year 500 BC that there are such animals in India. They should be wild, fast and strong - so rather not for cuddling. There is no mention of a mane in pink either. But Ktesias claims that the horn, twisted like a snail shell, has healing powers: if you use it as a drinking vessel, no poison in the world can harm you, so it was thought. This belief has been held for a long time. In pharmacopoeias from the Middle Ages, unicorns are mentioned again and again - also with Saint Hildegard von Bingen. Even today some pharmacies are named after the mythical creature. In the British national coat of arms, the unicorn stands for Scotland. There may also be sea monsters there ... only you rarely see them in the fog. The Danish naturalist Olaus Wormius found out in 1638 that the supposed unicorn horns of narwhals come from the Arctic. Narwhals have a long tusk on their forehead. But the unicorns are back, and not just in the toy store. Market researchers say that this is partly due to the fact that they also help adults to leave their daily grind behind.

Magic horses in the forbidden forest

You could tell a little from the fact that readers of all ages have devoured J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels over the past twenty years. You are immersed in a magical world in which unicorns are just one of many types of magical creatures - found in the Forbidden Forest. Silver blood flows through her veins; of course the horn has magical powers. They show their effect in magic potions. A stone from this special horn also appears in “The Neverending Story”: it's called Al’Tsahir. Stubborn as a donkey, but more dangerous is the unicorn in the fairy tale "The Brave Little Tailor". It takes a ruse to catch it. Do you remember which ones?

Another reason why the business with unicorns of all kinds for young and old is so great: Manufacturers don't have to pay anything for them, unlike trend characters like “Hello Kitty” or drawn heroes from Disney films. Or the jagged lightning bolt lettering from "Harry Potter".