- The Red Ettin – a tale about three sons setting out on journeys – each one is given the choice to take a full loaf and their mother’s curse or half a loaf and their mother’s blessing. Only the youngest son makes the latter choice and he succeeds in marrying a beautiful princess.
- Sleeping Beauty – the familiar folktale of a cursed princess rescued by a courageous prince.
- The Firebird – a Russian folktale about an emperor whose golden apples are being stolen at night-time. The emperor commands his sons to find out who the thief is and only the youngest son succeeds. He sets out on journey to catch the culprit, the firebird, and eventually succeeds and marries a beautiful princess.
- The King of Ireland’s Son and the Enchanter’s Daughter – the story of a prince who loses a wager to an enchanter and has to complete the tasks set by him. Eventually he succeeds marries the enchanter’s daughter!
The final story she references is the Book of Ruth from the Bible. Ruth was a Moabite who travelled far away from home to marry an Israelite. After her husband died Ruth remained loyal to her mother-in-law Naomi saying ‘whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.’ She eventual married again largely as a result of her loyalty to Naomi and lives happily ever after.
All of these references encourage courage in the face being far away from home. Niall and Xenya’s marriage is seen as the start of a great adventure and she tells them not to be afraid to ‘leave behind the places’ that they know. The stories from their respective cultures will keep them connected to home: ‘All that you leave behind you will find once more.’
The Book of Ruth showing Ruth’s relationship with her mother-in-law Naomi.