Based on “The Compleat Wetlander” fairy houses have been a Maine tradition for over a hundred years, especially along the coast. School teachers once traveled to islands off the coast of Maine and brought folktales about fairies. This inspired the islanders to build little houses that might attract fairies. The original fairy houses had a small altar with an offering, such as a coin or nickel, to pay the fairies so they would help farmers.
Children and adults create fairy houses so the fairies will have a place to live. Traditionally they are made from things found in nature – twigs, shells, bark, stones, leaves, dried berries, sea glass, etc. The houses are usually nestled at the base of a tree for support or in a garden by a rock. Today many garden shops sell all sorts of miniatures to build a fairy house with, including ready made houses.
You do not have to be on the coast of Maine to build a fairy house. Wherever you live you may create one from things you find in the woods and along the shore. If you live in a city apartment, you can build one in a container for your balcony.
Fairy House Villages have popped up in the northeast recently. The Coast Maine Botanical Gardens near Ocean Point Inn has an area of fairy houses and you may build one of your own there. They also sponsor a special fairy celebration each summer which is lots of fun for children and the adults with them. They can build their own houses, dress like a fairy, have a fairy tea, do fairy crafts, hear the author of a book on fairy houses, etc. I have enjoyed taking my grand daughters to this event and they have had lots of fun.
Monhegan Island is known for fairy houses on their trails. Be sure to check this out on your next trip to Monhegan. Mackworth Island in Falmouth, Maine, has a large Fairy House Village of permanent fairy houses. The cliff trail in Harpswell, Maine, also has fairy houses.
Building a fairy house is limited only by your imagination and creativity and is enjoyed as much by adults as children. There is no end to details you can add – chandelier over a table, wall art, chimney, smoke out the chimney, beds, walkways, gardens,……..you name it!
To build a fairy house you first decide where it will be located – base of a tree, in a garden, in a container? Once you have the location, collect as many materials as you can find. One of the rules of fairy house building is not to destroy anything that is living. Leaves, twigs, pine cones, shells, sea glass, seaweed, pebbles, dried moss, bark, feathers, acorns, horse chestnuts, dried grasses are all useful items. Now the fun begins! If you start your first house next to a tree or rock it gives you something to help support the structure.
Enjoy – I bet you will want to build more that one fairy house!