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The 5 Chillest Stories From Gypsy Lore

Gypsies have a breadth of awesome history, particularly when it comes to their mythology. Here are five classic tales explaining the mythos behind some gypsy traditions, as well as folklore. There's much more to gypsies than their past, though—check out the modern gypsy lifestyle in American Gypsies, premiering July 17 at 9pm only on National Geographic Channel.

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1. Jack and His Golden Snuff-Box

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In this story, we find "Jack," a young boy, looking to set out on his own. Before the journey, his totally rude mom gives him a big cake (with "her curse" in it, of course), while his (cool) dad offers him a golden snuff-box, for use only when he might otherwise die.

He stumbles upon some house that's occupied by this weirdo who demands a "great lake" and a warship or else he's gonna kill Jack. Fearing for his life, he opens the snuff-box and three little red men hop out (obviously), who say they'll take care of it. The next morning, there's a lake and a boat right outside.

It turns out this dude was looking for someone to marry his daughter. He says that Jack can, as long as he helps out with a couple other reasonable things, like constructing an entire castle. He manages to do it all, even after dealing with the King of Mice, the King of Frogs, and the King of Birds who insert themselves into the situation and try to wreck everything.

The moral? Do whatever crazy shit some guy in the woods says and you'll end up finding the girl of your dreams.

2. The Little Bull-Calf

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Here we have a boy whose dad had given him a little bull-calf to raise, but his mom's second husband isn't into it and says he'll kill the calf. So the boy runs off.

Anyway, turns out this bull-calf is insane. It tells the boy it's gonna go into the woods and kill "all the creatures" it finds, though ultimately some dragon's going to kill it. After that, the bull-calf says, the boy must skin it and take its bladder, which will apparently kill anything it touches.

After the bull-calf gets rubbed out, the boy does as it says and loses his finger in the process—but also stumbles upon a princess who totally digs him.

The moral? Bull-calf's bladders kill everything and princesses love guys with nine fingers.

3. The Story of Origin

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So one day, the gypsies were just hanging out when this cool-looking necromancer showed up. He offered them immortality if they would serve under him, but the group was like, "Hell no" to that garbage deal. Being mean and upset, the necromancer cursed them and said they'd never have their own land again. The next morning, they got attacked by a bunch of zombies and crap. A lot of people died and the land was ruined.

Obviously, the survivors had to get the heck out of there and just ran. They ran so far away, in fact, that they ended up on a mountain. Once they regrouped, they called upon the spirits and a voice told them they'd have to continue wandering, but could recruit others to join them, and could curse those who tried to kill them.

The moral? Don't mess with necromancers unless you wanna end up traveling forever.

4. Aleandro Kalderasha and the Four Horrors

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Ever wondered why horseshoes are lucky? Naturally, it involves another necromancer. And again, this one sought to destroy the gypsies. To do so, he unleashed four undead gods: Hunger, Bad Luck, Bad Health, and Unhappiness.

Unfortunately for them, this chill dude Aleandro Kalderasha wasn't having any of that nonsense. He went to confront the horrors, and not-so-unexpectedly, Bad Luck chased after him. Fortunately, one of Aleandro's steed's shoes fell off and hit ol' Bad Luck right in the face, KO'ing him on the spot. Aleandro wanted a lil memento of his "victory," so he grabbed the shoe and headed home, hanging it above his door.

When Bad Luck's bros found out, they went to kill Aleandro, but noticed the shoe. Unhappiness said: "My brothers, there are three of us, and that horse has three shoes remaining." Being all cowardly and dead and all, they fled, never to return again.

The moral? Always make sure you bring a horse whose shoes are loose to a demon fight.

5. The First Gypsy King

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Thousands of years ago, a rude dragon showed up and planned to, you know, lay waste to the Earth. A brave man named "Nicolaos" charged himself with the task of stopping the dragon before it had the chance. With claws forged from iron and clothed in a bunch of ox hides, he called upon the dragon. Killing it was probably gonna be too hard, though, so he challenged the dragon to a game of dice, with the wager being their skins.

Nicolaos lost the first round, but he simply cut off one layer of ox hide and rolled again. This time, the dragon lost, and Nicolaos removed the dragon's ONLY hide with his own mighty claws. He then casually returned to his people and said: "My brothers, my sisters, the great Aleandro Kalderasha taught us well, and today the lesson is repeated; it is better to be lucky than to be good."

The moral? Don't bring guns to a dragon fight. Bring like, a lot of ox hides.