We all know how babies are made. The stork can be seen flying over rooftops with a little cloth bundle before landing at the doorstep of a happy couple who then unwrap their precious, smiling newborn—right? This myth was once a common story to tell children who were deemed too young to be told anything different.
In many cultures, storks represent fertility, springtime and good luck.
In Roman times, if a stork built a nest on your roof, it was seen as a blessing and a promise of never-ending love from Venus. (Aristotle went as far as to make killing storks a crime.)
Some believed that a stork could cause a woman to become pregnant just by looking at her. (!)
Storks are considered harbingers of good fortune.
In Germany, they are known as “adebar,” meaning “luck-bringer.”
In the Netherlands, a stork nesting on one’s roof is viewed as a good omen for the family who lives there.
According to European folklore, the stork is responsible for bringing babies to new parents. The legend is very ancient, but was popularised by a 19th-century Hans Christian Andersen story called The Storks. German folklore held that storks found babies in caves or marshes and brought them to households in a basket on their backs or held in their beaks. These caves contained adebarsteine or “stork stones”. The babies would then be given to the mother or dropped down the chimney. Households would notify when they wanted children by placing sweets for the stork on the window sill. From there the folklore has spread around the world to the Philippines and countries in South America. Birthmarks on the back of the head of newborn baby, nevus flammeus nuchae, are sometimes referred to as a stork-bite.