This month: fairy tales from ancient Egypt!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Fairy Tales for Christmas Tide

5. Frau Holla zieht umher
5. Frau Holla is stirring....

Frau Holla begins her wanderings on Christmas Eve, for this is when goodwives bind new scraps of cotton or flax around their spindles. The spindles are then left out over night. If Frau Holla sees them, she says:

"So many a hair
So many a good year."

Frau Holla repeats this every evening until New Year's or Three Kings' Day. Then she must return to her Horselberg; but when she returns if she finds flax on the spindle she becomes very angry and says:

"So many a hair
So many a bad year."

That is why every evening when work is done the maidservants carefully remove from their spindles whatever they have not spun so that the spindles are bare and no evil befalls them. But it's even better if they are able to spin off all the bound batting before the end of the day.


6. Frau Hollen Bad
6. Frau Holla's Bath

There is a place in Hessen called Meissner where there is a large moor or lake. Often the water is murky and the place is called Frau Holla's Bath. Old folks tell how they have seen Frau Holle bathing in the murky water at mid-day and then see her vanish. The hills and moors in the entire region are filled with ghosts; travelers or hunters often become confused, lured away or harmed.


7. Frau Holla und der treue Eckart
7. Frau Holla and True Eckart

There is a village in Thuringia named Schwarza or Darkish. On Christmas Eve Frau Holla moves about the village and in the front of the pack True Eckart walks, warning people to get out of the way so that they are not harmed. Once, a few farm boys had just purchased beer in the pub and they wanted to carry it home. Suddenly the ghostly parade appeared before them. The ghosts took up the entire width of the street so the village chaps with their jugs turned away and receded into a corner. No sooner done than several crones separated themselves from the procession, took the jugs and drank them empty. The boys held their tongues out of fear and did not know how they would be received at home when they returned with empty jugs. Finally, True Eckart came round the corner and said: "Good that you did not say peep; tell no one what happened. Your jugs will always be full of beer and they will never break." The boys did this and it was as True Eckart said. The jugs were never empty. The boys were able to follow the advice for three days. But finally, they could conceal their secret no longer and told their parents. Their luck ran out and the little jugs dried up. Others said this did not happen on Christmas Eve but at a different time.

314 Der getreue Eckart/Deutsche Sagen

This is what is said about True Eckart: that he sits in front of the Venusberg or Hoeselberg and warns anyone who wants to enter. Johann Kennerer, Pastor at Mansfeld, his age over eighty years, told the story of how in Eisleben and in the entire Mansfeld area a raging army passed by every year on the eve of the feast of Thorn's Day. People ran to see the spectacle and waited as if it was nothing other than a powerful Kaiser or King who was passing by. In front of the troop walked an old man with a white staff. He called himself True Eckart. This man told the people to get out of the way, also said to many they must return home or experience harm. Endless hordes followed this man, endless throngs followed and people were seen in their midst who had recently died in the places and some were seen, who were still living. One rode on a horse with two legs. Another was bound to a wheel and the wheel rolled on its own. A third man was seen running furiously with his legs over his shoulders. Another man did not have any head and a piece without any dimensions. This happened recently in Franken and you can often see this in Heidelberg on the Neckar. The raging army appears in wild, deserted places, in the air, in the dark, with hounds bellowing, blowing of hunting horns and bellowing of wild animals. Often you can see rabbits running ahead and hear pigs grunting.

8. Frau Hola und der Bauer
8. Frau Holla and the Farmer

Once, when Frau Holla went out, she met a farmer with an axe. She said that he should cut or hack out a path for her. The day laborer did as she commanded and when the work was finished she said "Gather up the chips and take them as my gratitude," then she went her way. To the man, this seemed a futile and useless reward so he left most of the chips lying on the ground. He took only one or three pieces with him out of boredom. When he came home and looked in his bag, the chips had changed to sparkling gold. He turned around at once to retrieve the others left lying; but no matter how hard he looked it was too late and nothing was left behind.


117. Die Christnacht
117. Christmas Eve

In the early morning on Christmas Eve Day, superstitious maids buy a roll in the baker's shop for a Pfennig and always a bun with an end piece that is closed off. They cut off a bit of the crust, tie it under their right arm and work diligently the entire day. Afterward when they go to bed, they place the crust under their pillow on Christmas Eve and say:

"Now I lay down to sleep with bread by me,
If only my true love came and ate with me!"

At midnight some of the bread crust should be gnawed and in the morning you can tell whether or not the maid will marry her true love during the year. If the bread was left untouched, there is little hope. It also supposedly happened (in 1657 in Leipzig) that two slept in one bed. One had such a bread crust under her pillow, the other not. The other one heard a creaking and gnawing and was afraid and shook her bedfellow until she awoke from her dreams. When they looked at the bread in the morning, the form of a cross had been eaten out of it. The woman soon found a soldier as husband.


An old woman in Saale Fields says that others take a vessel with water and measure out the water with a certain small measuring cup, pouring it into another vessel. They do this endless times to see whether in the repeat measurements they find more water than the first time. From this they tell whether the following year will increase their possessions and goods. If they find the one and same measure, they believe their fate will stand still and bring neither fortune nor misfortune. But if in the end there is less water, they believe that their prosperity will decline. The Saale Field woman had the second thing happen to her.


Others take a bowl of peas and a ball of twine, bind the twine fast to the bowl and wind the ball until it can run no more than before. Now they let go it, releasing one yard or six. They now hang the contraption out of the window and move it from one side to another on the outer walls and say: "Listen, listen!" From the side area they should hear the voice, to whom they must come to free and to live with. Others reach their hands out of the door and when they pull their hands back in, have several hairs from their future true love.

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