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Kinderbettenwein - I have found two links for the word.

Basically is it a very good wine that is give to new mothers to strengthen them after having given birth.





The 1853 Addey Edition curiously changes the gender of the animals in mid- text.

In the beginning and in the end, the "Cat" is female, the "Mouse" is male. In the middle of the text, the Cat is female, but the mouse is also referred to with female pronouns.

A cat having made the acquaintance of a Mouse, told him so much of the love and affection she bore to him.....FEMALE CAT

...the cat began to wish for it again, so she spoke to the Mouse and said...I am asked by my aunt to stand godmother to a little son....FAMALE CAT

She went straigh to the church...she had eaten off the top....then she took a walk...thinking over her situation...stretching herself...stroking her wiskers....as she thought....FEMALE CAT

The Mouse busied herself...shaking her head she rolled herself...the Mouse bethought herself...FEMALE MOUSE

In the 2nd to the last sentence the gender of the "Mouse" is male again -> "But the poor Mouse had "All-out" at her tongue's end, and had scarcely uttered it when the Cat made a spring, seized HIM in her mouth, and swalloed HIM." MALE MOUSE



In the 1810 text, both the cat and the mouse are addressed with the neuter noun "Das Ktzchen" and "das Maschen." Only the neuter pronoun "es" is used in relation to either.

In the 1812 text, the title is changed to "Katz und Maus in Gesellschaft" and they are referred to as "eine Katze" and "eine Maus." "Eine" is the nominative singular femine of "ein." The cat and the mouse are referred to with the feminine "die Katze" and "die Maus." It is also written of the mouse that "damit schttelte sie (she) den kopf," and "so sprang die Katz' auf sie (she) zu und schluckte sie (her) hinunter."

By the 1857 text, both characters are clearly female. Both are referred to withe "sie" (she) many times.

The question for translators was - why would two female characters be asked to do a "male job" such as standing "Gevatter?" "Gevatter" is "godfather" is it not? It has the "vatter" in it which means "father"? The answer is NO, the female cat is not being asked to be "godfather," she is being asked to be "godmother." The word "Gevatter" has come to mean "godfather," but it's earlier (many hundreds of years ago) meaning was "spiritual godmother" and was the female form of the word. See my explanation in the 1810 book.

So since many translators did not know this, they just changed the sex of the characters to fit whichever word they chose. For "godfather" the cat was male, for "godmother" the cat remained female. The sex of the mouse was also changed either to suit or by mistake as can be seen above.

The Grimms never change the very old word "Gevatter" to one of the newer variants such as "Gevatterfrau" or "Gevatterin" (both of which are understood to be "female" today) in any of the editions of the KHM, which they could have done, but the whole point was to use the older female form of the word in the Mrchen. This of course, caused much confusion for translators. Even the translation by Zipes just published in 2014 (after the publication of my book) gets it wrong. Zipes writes "godfather," changes the sex of the cat to male and referrs to "him" with male (he) pronouns. In Manheim's 1977 translation, he leaves both characters as "female" and writes "godmother" Why did Zipes not look at what Mannheim wrote think of why Manheim used "godmother" instead of "godfather?"  Why did Zipes not use a dictionary and look up what "Gevatter" originally meant in German? Zipes is after all, an actual Professor of German.

While the Manheim translation of these words is correct, no English language reader will ever know of the use of the very old German word "Gevatter" in the text or why it was even used. For translators, it should raise a "red blood-flag" so to speak.

In 1812 #39 II, "Gevatter" is also used as the female form of the word - "godmother." In all other 1812 texts, "Gevatter" is male. Interestingly, here Zipes correctlry translates the word as "godmother" in his 2014 text. It does seem that this is a fortunate "accidental" translation that ended up being correct, rather than a purposeful use of the word. Since Zipes adds, deleted modifies his translations anyway, it is not easy to tell.


I must admit that I initially got it wrong in the 1812 book, but I have since corrected it. Then again, I am not a professional nor am I a Professor of German or an expert in the old German language. It seemed odd to me while working on the 1810 texts that a female cat would be asked to do a "male job" such as "Gevatter." There are instances in the 1812 texts where "Gevatter" is used in conjunction with "male" characters, where the words does not raise any "red flags." "Der Herr Gevatter" and "Gevatter Tod" are both "male" characters.

From the OED:

"Godfather" = f. god n. + father n.: see below.]
   1. A male sponsor considered in relation to his god-child.
   According to the practice of the Roman, Greek, Anglican, and some other churches, certain persons (commonly two at least, a man and woman) assist at the administration of baptism, make profession of the Christian faith on behalf of the person baptized, and guarantee his or her religious education. In accordance with the view that these persons enter into a spiritual relationship with the baptized person and with each other, they were in OE. denoted by designations formed by prefixing god- to the words expressing natural relationship, as godsib, godfder, godmdor, godbearn, etc. The same terms are employed in the Scandinavian languages (ON. gudttir, -fair, -mir, etc., and corresponding forms in Sw. and Da.), prob. as adoptions from OE. The Du. godmoeder, godvader (also goed-), recorded in Kilian, are obsolete (if they were ever used) in Holland, but are still current in certain parts of Belgium.

("g&f@(r)) Also 6, 8 gaffar. [The analogy of the continental synonyms, F. compre, commre, Ger. gevatter, would suggest that gaffer, gammer are contractions of godfather, godmother rather than of grandfather, -mother; but the change of vowel may be due to association with these words.]
   1. A term applied originally by country people to an elderly man or one whose position entitled him to respect.  a. Prefixed by way of respect (sometimes with an affectation of rusticity) to a proper name, the designation of a calling, office, etc. In 1718th c. the usual prefix, in rustic speech, to the name of a man below the rank of those addressed as 'Master' (cf. goodman).
   1575 J. Still Gamm. Gurton v. ii, Then chad ben drest be~like, as ill by the masse, as gaffar vicar.  1635 E. Pagitt Christianogr. 200 Were they called Gaffer Bishops, or had they not more honorable Titles?  1651 Randolph, etc. Hey for Honesty i. i. Wks. (1875) 386 This same gaffer Phoebus is a good mounte~bank and an excellent musician.  1693 G. Firmin Rev. Mr. Davis's Vind. iv. 31 For a Man, who before was but a Gaffer, to be now called Master, to have the people follow him, and he to frequent their Tables, is a better Trade, then to be Threshing, or such like work.  1714 Gay Sheph. Week v. 151 For Gaffer Tread-well told us, by the by, Excessive Sorrow is exceeding dry.  1742 Fielding J. Andrews i. ii, Mr. Joseph Andrews+was esteemed to be the only Son of Gaffar and Gammer Andrews.  1806 Fessenden Democr. I. 89 Made them shake hands both wig and tory As Gaffer Homer tells the story.  1828 Scott F.M. Perth xvi, You have marred my ramble, Gaffer Glover. 


   c1000 Laws of Ine c. 76 in Schmid Gesetze 56 Gif hwa ores+slea+god-fder.  1002 Will of Wulfric in Kemble Cod. Dipl. VI. 148 Hit ws mines godfder yfu.  c1175 Lamb. Hom. 73 et mon scule childre fulhten and heore godfaderes and heore godmoderes scullen onswerie for hem [etc.].  1303 R. Brunne Handl. Synne 1691 ou shalt not+Wedde y godfadrys wyfe.  c1350 Will. Palerne 4085 Alphouns his gode godfaderes dede him an calle at kyrke for his kinde name.  c1386 Chaucer Pars. T. 3835 Right so as he that engendreth a child is his flesshly fader right so is his godfather his fadere spiritueel.  1426 Audelay Poems (Percy Soc.) 11 Oure godfars, oure godmoders.  1479 Surtees Misc. (1888) 38 Whose godfadre was John Elwalde.  1548 Hall Chron., Edw. IV, 226 Whome for a farther affinitie, he had made Godfather to hys sonne Charles the Doulphyn.  1650 B. Discolliminium 44, I am glad God~fathers are cashiered for his sake.  1661 Except. agst. Liturgy 25 The far greater number of persons baptized within these twenty years last past, had no Godfathers nor God-Mothers at their Baptism.  1662 Bk. Com. Prayer, Publick Baptism, There shall be for every male child to be baptized+two Godfathers and one Godmother: and for every female, one Godfather and two Godmothers.  1732 Law Serious C. x. (ed. 2) 140 He refused to be Godfather to his Nephew because he will have no trust of any kind to answer for.  1839 Dickens Lett. (1880) I. 24, I must solicit you to become godfather. 

" Godsib" = old form of "Gossip"

("gQsIp) Forms: 1 godsib(b, 4 godsyb(be, -zyb(be, 45 gossib(be, 47 godsib(be, 56 gos(s)y(p)p(e, 57 godsip, gossipp(e, gos(s)op(e, 58 gossep(pe, 67 goship, (5 godsep, -sypp, gossyb(e, 6 ghosseppe, gossup, goshyp(p, godcept, 7 godsepte, ghossip), 6 gossip. [OE. godsibb masc. (f. god god + sib(b adj., akin, related: see sib a.) = ON. gu-sefe masc., gu-sifja fem., OSw. guzsowir masc., guziff, gudzsff fem. In ME. a single example is found of a fem. godzybbe corresp. to masc. godzyb (see quot. 1340 in 1).]

   1. One who has contracted spiritual affinity with another by acting as a sponsor at a baptism.  a. In relation to the person baptized: A godfather or godmother; a sponsor. Now only arch. and dial.
   1014 Wulfstan Serm. ad Anglos (Napier) 160 Godsibbas and godbearn to fela man forspilde wide ynd as eode.  1340 Ayenb. 48 e zeuende is+of godsone to e children of his godzyb oer of his godzybbe.  1590 Greenwood Collect. Sclaund. Art. G, The rashe, vndiscreete, and vnpossible vowe of the saide gossipps.  1649 Evelyn Diary (1827) II. 16 The parents being so poore that they had provided no gossips.  a1654 Selden Table T. (Arb.) 90 Should a great Lady, that was invited to be a Gossip, in her place send her kitchen-maid.  1711 Hearne Collect. (O.H.S.) III. 194 Fully designed to come and stand gossip in person to Dr. Hudson's child.  1770 Foote Lame Lover i. 12 Do you know that you are new christen'd, and have had me for a gossip?  1819 S. Rogers Hum. Life 34 Now, glad at heart the gossips breathe their prayer.  1856 C. M. Yonge Daisy Chain i. ix. (1879) 79 I'll find gossips, and let 'em be christened on Sunday.  1876 Freeman Norm. Conq. V. xxv. 560 The Englishman whose child was held at the font by a Norman gossip+cast aside his own name.  1886 S.W. Linc. Gloss. s.v., I suppose the same gossips will do for both.  1581 J. Bell Haddon's Answ. Osor. 407b, And this place ye Catholicke gosseppes have Christened by the name of Purgatory.  1607 Middleton Michaelm. Term iii. iv, I would never undertake to be gossip to that bond which I would not see well brought up.  1673 [R. Leigh] Transp. Reh. 8 Who would be Gossip to all the nameless Off-springs of the Press. 

If I was to redo or improve the translation I might now choose "godsip" or "gaffar" instead of "godmother." I might even choose one of the "old" spellings of the word - 'godsepte."