Difference between Nymphs and Fairies

Nymphs vs. Fairies

What is difference between Nymphs and Fairies? In antiquity, people long believed in mythical creatures such as nymphs and fairies. According to legend, these creatures had incredible powers. At present, most people are confused in distinguishing a nymph from a fairy or vice versa. To know the differences and similarities between nymphs and fairies, read this article and you will understand.

Difference between Nymphs and Fairies

Nowadays, fairies are more popular than nymphs; since every time people see beautiful magical creatures with a woman figure, they are considered fairies when many times they are actually nymphs. There are many characteristics that allow distinguishing a fairy from a nymph, among them we can mention that the nymphs are the size of humans and are represented as very beautiful women or teenagers. They are found in natural environments such as water, forest, mountain and trees. So if you get to see a young woman with magical powers in the forest, it may be that she is a nymph in charge of protecting that area.

On the other hand, the fairies are just the size of the thumb and can be male or female; although more are usually mentioned. They live on flowering plants and originally had no wings, but with wings they became more popular among people.

Nymphs

The word “nymph” comes from the Greek “nymphe”. These creatures have five classifications, which are: water nymphs, terrestrial nymphs, celestial nymphs, plant nymphs and nymphs from the underworld. They are a species of demigod and are considered as divine spirits in association with nature. They are young and beautiful maidens who always like to sing and dance. Among the nymphs’ favorite places of residence are springs, rivers, valleys, mountains, trees and grottoes.

Nymphs cannot die of old age or disease, but of other causes. According to the legends, even if they were paired with a god they could not have an immortal descendant; since they were not totally immortal, their descendants also died. Although the nymphs were different to the gods, some gods took the form of them by diverse causes. Among the gods who took the form of nymphs at one time are: Dionysius, Hermes, Pan, among others.

Fairies

On the other hand, fairies are also called fey creatures. Like nymphs, they are mysterious creatures and possess magic. From culture to culture, people see the mystery surrounding the fairies differently. On the basis of the common perception of today, fairies are like geniuses. The most popular would be the tooth fairy; that if the fallen tooth is placed under the pillow, it comes and gives a wish or leaves a coin.

At present, fairies are considered as benevolent and wise creatures, however, in antiquity; were not considered as kind beings. Previously, people thought that fairies had caused bad luck and were naughty creatures. These creatures love to play and can be very difficult to deal with. In other words, the fairies were once seen as the cause of the evil that exists. If you get lost in the woods, the fairies might be playing a trick with you.

In ancient times, when famines, diseases and children were lost, people blamed fairies. Because of this, people devised materials supposedly to drive them away, such as cold iron, rowan, and holy water. The fairies were said to be fallen angels and sprang up from the spirits of the dead, for this and other reasons they were attributed to black characteristics.

Finally, nymphs emerge directly from Greek culture, while fairies date back to the time of the Roman Empire. In this part it is well to remember, that the Romans absorbed much of the Greek culture, including their cults and their gods; for which it is very probable that the fairies are the Roman version of the nymphs.

Key differences between Nymphs and Fairies

  • Nymphs are the size of a human being, while fairies are tiny; just like a thumb.
  • The fairies arise from the Roman cult, while the nymphs are beings of the Greek mythology.
  • Nymphs are always female, while fairies can be male or female.
  • Nymphs are considered protective creatures of nature, while fairies were considered in antiquity as the cause of all evils.