COPENHAGEN: Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid statue celebrated her 100th birthday on Friday with parties for children as well as grownups, illustrating the universal appeal of Hans Christian Andersen’s poignant fairytale.

Perched on a rock in the water just off the star-shaped Kastellet fortress near the city’s harbour, the small bronze-skinned sculpture has become a Danish icon on a par with Carlsberg, the brewery once owned by the man who financed it.

Today, millions of children know the Little Mermaid from the Disney movie and the merchandise it spawned, but the original story lacks the happy ending of the animated film. In the Danish saga, the mermaid rescues a prince at sea and falls in love, giving up her aquatic life to be with him on land.

However, to turn her fishtail into legs, she has to give up her voice, and speechlessly she watches her prince marry someone else. In sorrow, she throws herself back into the ocean and turns into foam. With their unique blend of satire, warmth and humour, H.C. Andersen’s fairytales revolutionised children’s literature. Born in the central city of Odense, Andersen’s penchant for making the underdog the protagonist of his stories helped the tales spread around the world, said Per-Olof Mattsson, a lecturer at the Department of Literature and History of Ideas at Stockholm University.–AFP