The History Behind Storks Delivering Babies To Your Door

You’ve seen Storks multiple times on cards, cartoons, or an entire baby product range. But have you ever stopped to think about the connection between storks and babies? 

Storks are one of the most beautiful creations, often linked to immaculateness and peace owing to their pure white color. However, these birds are friendly as they build up their nests in places close to humanity. In some countries, people like to invite Storks to their homes by placing sweets in the window as they consider Stork as a bringer of life. 

Stork Carrying a baby
Image credit: John Lund/Getty Images

Greek Mythology and Storks 

The myth of Storks being connected to delivering babies does not end here as there is a lot of history behind this same connection as the myth itself is old enough to take us to Greek Times, which was just the start of this magical tale. 

The Legend revolves around a Goddess named Hera (wife of Zeus) seeking revenge on a beautiful queen named Gerana. Why? Because Gerana became Zeus’ lover and was often described as extremely beautiful. Jealousy took better of an exasperated Hera, and she, out of revenge, transformed Gerana into a Stork. 

The love affair between Zeus and Gerana delivered a baby, which a grief-stricken transformed Gerana later saved from Hera’s custody. Greek Mythology writes the tale of Gerana flying away with a baby swinging from her beak. 

However, “Warren Chad,” while researching for her book, observed some facts that led to her questioning the bird mentioned in these myths. For example, the bird in Greek Mythology was a Crane. 

Similarly, Egyptian mythological times also feature a Heron (referred to as the birth of the world) that resembled Storks and so on. Of course, like any other myth, it won’t be easy for us to determine the factual basis of this concept. Still, one thing is for sure: whether it was a Stork, a Heron, or a crane, all these birds have one thing in common, i.e., this family of birds is intertwined to delivering babies. 

Storks in Northern Europe

Historians worldwide agree that whatever the basis behind this myth, the concept became deep-rooted initially in Northern Europe. Let’s roll back our calendars to 600 CE to a time where paganism was common.

Couples married during the summer as the season used to be associated with the fertility of both man and woman. 

Guess what? Storks also utilize this time migrating from Europe to Africa followed by their return, precisely nine months later. Yes, if a couple got married during summers, they would be happily awaiting the arrival of their newborn along with returning storks. Eventually, the association between storks and babies became so strong people began to expect the birth of a newborn if a stork was seen nesting on the rooftop of the couple’s house.  

Storks in the 19th Century

Fast forward to the 19th Century, a writer “Hans Christian Andersen” wrote a book called “The Storks,” wherein he defined Storks as a bird directly connected to life and birth. It was a fantasy tale overall where storks used to deliver babies to couples.

The tale gained popularity as it taught children to have good, healthy, and respectful relationships with their parents. But still, the literature endorsed the myth of storks delivering babies, making it very common with children.

But if we keep all these myths aside for a second and ask ourselves a question. It isn’t easy to explain to our children how babies are born. 

This is what exactly started happening in England, where the fabulous tale of Stork delivering babies became a reality for young children whose parents were expecting a sibling. 

When asked, parents, instead of telling the obscured real-time issues and process of life and birth, started referring to the story of how a stork will deliver a baby. It became more of a situation handler than a myth in recent times, allowing parents to avoid an embarrassing situation in front of their children safely. 

Storks are beautiful birds who indeed depict peace and are considered the bringer of life and happiness. To associate them with delivering babies is nothing but a myth, a fairytale. A way out for parents in front of their children if they are expecting a newborn in their life. However, the birds are still considered the symbol of life in some countries, and people like to keep them in their houses or feed them by placing bowls of food and water on their terraces and rooftops. 

It’s amazing how we can look back at the whole story of the Stork’s origin and realize that all these strange stories actually do have a place of origin. They have evolved and adapted from society and culture over time to fit what they mean today. 

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Alan Behrens

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