A common Russian joke told to guests from other countries is that they can meet in Russia bears as well in big towns but with a balalaika around the shoulder and a bottle of vodka in the paw.
All is just fine for my teddy deep in the forest
This human perspective of the bear and nature has in fact nothing to do with the real bear who likes for instance to snack honey or all kinds of berries. In any case the bear still acts all around us as a virulent archetype in our today’s life and language, so in Germany – when telling a complete false story – this is described by the idiomatic phrase “jemandem einen Bären aufbinden” meaning literally to fix a bear on somebody’s back.
‘Meister Petz und Reineke Fuchs’, 1752, by Allart van Everdingen
(Illustration in Johann Christoph Gottscheds’ animal epos ‘Reineke der Fuchs’)
During the Bronze Age people in Europe adored the bear for his power and strength, but besides believed in him also as a great healer because it was said that during the time of the annual winter dormancy the bears would simply disappear to the other unseen world of myths, spirits, gods and dreams. However, the common picture of the bear is a bit ambivalent because he was also regarded as a threat for farmed animals although being in reality a vegetarian most of the year. In the last 200 years the common view on the bear has changed a lot, because he hence became an important player in fables and epic works where he would represent either just a clumsy fellow or also quite often the real personalization of a friendly, good-natured, naive companion.
19th century illustration by Gustave Doré
In Northern America the tale of “The woman who married a bear” is widely well known and most probably existing in multiple versions with the diverse tribes and first nations. And in this context and culture bears are more treated like brothers and sisters shared in a common nature. In order to preserve this old but jeopardized relationship they have found GOAL, the tribal coalition to protect the grizzly and their ancestors’ legacy. GOAL is representing 39 tribal nations in total, and you will find more detailed information under the following link: