In order to wish you Happy Smurfy New year 2012 we decided to share with you this great article about the history of the smurfs, which was kindly provided by our friends from Halloween costumes.
Ah, the Smurfs. Just hearing the word itself fills me with nostalgia. However, the word also calls to mind the same kind of questions I had as a little kid watching the cartoon: what is a Smurf exactly and where did they come from? And why are they called Smurfs? Most people have memories of watching the cartoon on Saturday mornings in the 80s, but the history of the characters isn’t as well-known. So, in the interest of sating my curiosity and yours, I’ve found five facts about the history of these little blue creatures that we know and love.
1. The word “smurf” was invented when the creator couldn’t remember the word salt.
Yes, really! Peyo, the creator and mastermind behind the Smurfs, was eating supper with a friend and just couldn’t think of the word salt. (You know the feeling. When the term is right on the tip of your tongue, but for some reason you just can’t seem to say it. Frustrating!) So, instead, he just used a made-up word as a replacement and asked his friend to pass the smurf. His friend played along asked him to smurf it back when he was done smurfing. And thus, the name and language of the Smurfs were born.
2. The Smurfs first appeared in a Belgian comic series in the 1950s.
Peyo was responsible for a Franco-Belgian comic series named Johan et Pirlouit, which told the stories of two pages to the king during the Middle Ages. A little blue man appeared in one story, published in 1958; he wore white clothes and had white-bearded elderly leader who wore red clothing. Sound familiar? The Smurf characters were so popular that they had their own story line the next year.
3. There are two different Smurf dialects.
Like with many places, there are regional differences in the way that the Smurf language is used. There are multiple ways to use “smurf” as either a verb or a noun. In one issue of the comic, a Smurf explains that “I’m smurfing to the smurf” could mean two totally separate things, depending on who said it. The village that the Smurfs live in is divided between the North and South, and the Smurfs on either side have different ways of using the term. (This is said to parallel the language differences between Belgian’s French and Dutch speaking citizens.)
4. There was a black and white Smurfs movie released in the 1960s.
Kind of takes away from their blue skin, huh? The first Smurfs feature movie was released in 1965 to Belgian audiences. I imagine that it was probably very different than the blockbuster motion picture that came out in the summer of 2011. However, the only copies of the 1965 film are said to be German with Dutch subtitles, so who knows!
5. Smurfs on Ice existed.
Among countless other spin-offs and appearances, the Smurfs spent a few years moonlighting as ice dancers, thanks to the Ice Capades travelling ice show. Okay, I’m not going to lie – after I found this out, I went straight to YouTube to see for myself. Here is the opening number from the 1983 Ice Capades, starring Papa Smurf and Smurfette. You’re welcome!