This month: fairy tales from ancient Egypt!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

In these Christmas stories, knives are hurled and a coffin appears.

Nr. 116 Der Liebhaber zum Essen eingeladen
The lover invited to dinner and Christmas Eve augury

There once lived a woman who earned her living as a tax collector. Secretly this woman had fallen in love with her bookkeeper. She wanted to win his heart through magic and so she had a fresh loaf of bread baked on Holy Christmas Eve. She then stuck two knives into the loaf, cross-wise while murmuring quite a few words of incantation. The bookkeeper came to her from his sleep, completely unclothed, sat down at the table and looked at her severely. She stood up and ran away but the bookkeeper pulled both knives out of the bead and hurled them after her and almost wounded her. Afterward, he returned home; her aunt, who was present in the chamber, was so violently frightened that she lay in bed for several weeks unable to move. The following day the bookkeeper was heard to inquire of the household servants: he would like to know the woman who had scared him so in the past night. He was so tired that he could hardly speak, he should have escaped easily but could not defend himself; he tried, but pray as he would, he was instead driven out into the night.

The same old woman, who told this tale, added: On Christmas Eve in Coburg several young noble women kept something back from their dinner meal and got up at midnight and sat down at the table. Soon, their dearest came, each one brought a knife and wanted to sit down beside their girl. The noble women were frightened and fled; but one took the knife and threw it back. She turned around and looked at him and picked up the knife. Another time, instead of the invited swains, the physical incarnation of death came into the room and placed an hour glass next to one of the girls, who then died during the year.

In Silesia three ladies of the court sat down at a covered table on Christmas Eve and waited for their future true loves. For each a place had been set at the table. They had appeared in response to an invitation, but only two came and they sat down next to two ladies. The third did not appear. But the one who was left out became sad and impatient and finally got up after waiting in vain. When she went to the window and looked out, she viewed a coffin across the way, a young woman was lying within, who looked just like her. The young lady became ill immediately and died soon thereafter. According to oral tradition, the death chest comes into the room, the girl approaches it, the boards of the chest open up and the maid falls dead inside.

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