(Illustration Tomi Ungerer, Das Grosse Liederbuch)
Grimm’s Saga No. 232: The Farmers of Kolbeck
In the year 1012 a farmer in the village of Kolbeck near Halberstadt by the name of Albrecht started to dance on Christmas Eve. He began his dance in the churchyard with fifteen other farmers while the other villagers celebrated mass inside the church. There were three women among the dancers. The priest came out of the church with the intent of punishing each and every one of them. Finally the farmer stepped forth and said “They call me Albrecht, you are called Ruprecht; You are happy inside, so let us be happy outside. You sing your songs inside, so let us dance our roundelay outside.”
The priest replied: "May God and the Holy St. Magnus make you dance for an entire year!”
And so it happened. God gave those words power so that neither rain nor snow nor frost touched the heads of the dancers. Nor did they feel the pangs of heat, hunger or thirst, but rather they all danced and their shoes did not become worn. The verger ran over to the throng and wanted to pull his sister out of the dance, but she only flapped her arms and continued. When the year was over, Bishop Heribert of Cologne came and broke the spell. Four of the dancers immediately fell to the earth and died. The others became very sick. It was said that they danced until their shuffling feet had hollowed out a huge hole in the earth, which can still be seen today. A nobleman had as many stones erected as there were dancers. They still stand in the churchyard today as sign of what has passed.