The Sandman is part of the childhood imagination, and is at the head of all the tales and legends linked to sleep. But who really is this mysterious character supposed to put children to sleep? Today we present to you this funny merchant…

If not having already met him, everyone has at least heard of him... It's this famous Sandman, whom we sometimes curse on sleepless nights!

Legend has it that he shows up in children's rooms at nightfall to put them to sleep with a handful of sand in their eyes. This may seem scary, but it is found in many children's books and films. He is even one of the four heroes of the famous television series “Good night little ones”, in which he reveals himself to be completely kind and caring. So basically, who is he really?

The origin of the Sandman:

Difficult to very precisely date the appearance of this legendary figure... Its origin would come from an expression used from the 18th century: “to have sand under the eyes” which meant that the eyes were beginning to sting with fatigue and that one would therefore quickly fall into sleep.

It was then Hoffmann's short story entitled “The Sandman” which popularized it. In this fantastic story published in 1817, he becomes a disturbing character, the fruit of the disturbed imagination of a young hero on the verge of madness. Which explains why, in certain cultures, particularly Germanic, the sandman is far from the big, friendly and affable man that we would like to describe to children...

It must also be said that there are less violent methods to put you to sleep than someone throwing sand in your face!

At home and elsewhere:

In France, we are not afraid of it. Because he is the friend of Nounours, Nicolas and Pimprenelle, and because his representations in children's literature are common and reassuring.

This is not always the case elsewhere…

If the English Sandman differs little from our French Sandman, there remains a somewhat distressing figure called Sandmännchen in Germany. There too, he had his hour of television glory, but he appeared grumpy and unfriendly.

At Quebec, his equivalent is an old evil wanderer called the Seven Hours Man, whose mission is to scare children who do not sleep.

As for the Pedro Chosco Spanish, he proves very effective in putting children to sleep with his sweet deep voice... but he also uses it to seduce ladies!

There is hardly more than Portugal and at Denmark that we find him in the guise of a truly good-natured character... Although extremely shy and so silent that he is impossible to spot, the Portuguese João Pestana is eagerly awaited every night. And in one of his tales, Andersen invents an elf named Ole Lukøje (“Closed Eye” in French) who puts little Danes to sleep with a breath on the neck before accompanying their sleep with pretty stories.

 

Finally, wouldn't our good old Sandman be a European and modern version of the mythological Morpheus, the god of dreams?

But regardless of its name and age, if you have difficulty sleeping, we strongly advise you not to reproduce its technique: sand in your eyes stings!

Ref: Dormsante-jprs

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