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Folktales of the Sun & Moon As Starcrossed Lovers

Updated July 20, 2017

Throughout history, cultures have interperated the moon and sun in different ways. We now know that Earth revolves around the sun, and the moon revolves around Earth. However, before scientific discoveries were established, people used folktales to explain things they didn't understand about the heavens. Although each culture had its own stories about the sun and moon, many of them are about the sun and moon as starcrossed lovers.

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The Maasai people of East Africa created a story about the sun and moon that reflected their concepts of marriage. Once, the moon and sun had a fight. The sun attacked the moon, beating her like husbands were expected to do in the Maasai culture. However, the moon was a haughty woman, and she fought back. They wounded each other. So the sun became bright to hide his scratches. The moon is not embarrassed about her scars, so she shows hers.


A Nigerian creation tale involves the sun and moon as married partners. The sun and moon invited the ocean to their home to celebrate their marriage. The ocean came and began to enter their home, and the water started to rise. The sun and moon avoided the constantly rising water by going higher and higher. Finally the ocean filled the house, and the sun and moon took their separate places in the sky.


In the Philippines, the story begins when the sun and moon got married. They had many babies, the stars. Sadly, the sun would burn the stars when he held them, so the moon demanded he stop. However, when the moon was away, the sun picked up some children and they died. The moon returned and lashed out in anger, and they fought. The sun chases the moon to this day, but she is never caught.

West Africa

The Fon people in West Africa told this story about the sun and moon marriage. Liza is the sun god, and he is a strong, fierce being. His wife, the moon, is Mawu. She is a healing creation goddess that brings the coolness of night. Mawu and Liza are equally important in sustaining the balance of the universe. As the story goes, when there is an eclipse, Mawu and Liza are making love.

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