The Little Red Riding Hood is an ancient story, older than we can imagine. The first to write it down was Charles Perrault who in 1697 included it in his collection of folk tales. The story that Perrault knew originated in the Northern Alps, had been handed down in oral form for centuries and was radically different from the one we know today. First of all, when the wolf meets the girl in the woods, he asks her which path she prefers to follow, between that of the pins and that of the needles.
The names are not random. In many French villages located right in the area where the story is believed to be originated, at the age of 7, the girls began their work as apprentices employed by a seamstress. The apprenticeship period ended with the completion of the 15th year of age when the girl officially became an adult. During the years of apprenticeship, each girl accumulated and kept a few pins for herself. The wolf, who rushes to the girl’s grandmother’s house, kills the old woman, devours a part of it, cleans up the remains, pours the blood into a bottle, and neatly places the meat in the pantry.
The wolf, all wrapped up in bed, invites Little Red Riding Hood to prepare dinner and enjoy a delicious meal by the fire. At the first bite he whispers: “You’re eating your grandmother’s meat!”, a version from the French town of Tours even adds that the girl eats the old lady’s breasts. But it doesn’t stop there. Before inviting her to get under the covers with him, the wolf orders her to get naked. The story inevitably ends with the wolf devouring Little Red Riding Hood. And no, there is no heroic hunter!