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FAIRYTALECHANNEL.com Fairy tales following the seasons and bringing warmth to heart and hearth. Featured Fairy Tale: Fairy Tale of the Hinzelmann Hille Bingels' Wedding Party

Monday, August 10, 2020

Fairy Tales of Strange Steeds

Strange Steeds in Switzerland

Fairy Tale of Zawudschawu, the Night Horse

Many monsters were said to inhabit the mountains and valleys in times of old. In Sitten, a town in the Wallis region of Switzerland, a three-legged steed was often seen prancing through the streets in the bright moon light. And in the soft swamplands surrounding the city, the wild horse Zawudschawu could often be seen grazing at night. His coat was an iridescent milk-white but his wild mane and long tail were as white as the driven snow. If a brittle old hag wandered out of the village and lost her way in the moor, it might happen that the horse approached at a proud trot. Lowering itself carefully, it would invite the old person to sit on its back. Barely situated there, the horse would hasten home. 

But the horse was not always so gracious and trustworthy. Sometimes it played mean tricks. One evening a man, who had quenched his thirst a bit too much that evening, was wandering home from the tavern. He was tired and also his legs were unsteady. Fatigued, he sat down on a large stone near the bridge and thought to himself “If only an old nag would come trotting by to take me home.”

He had hardly formed the thought when he heard the approach of a horse; turning he saw the pale-white steed. It bowed and lowered itself gently and even nodded its head in an inviting way. The man did not hesitate nor did he wonder who the owner might be of such a magnificent steed. Rather clumsily he mounted the horse but once sitting on the horse’s back, the steed got up carefully and moved away. Thus encouraged, the man promised it good feed and sugar bread as reward for taking him home.

Soon the man saw his village and the roof of his house illuminated by the full moon. He smiled remembering his soft feather bed and urged the horse on with a gentle kick in its side. The horse responded by jumping jerkily, almost catapulting the rider into the air. He gripped its mane terrified as the horse began a wild gallop. The white mane whipped back by the wind nearly blinded the man. He implored the horse to return to the rightful path but instead it crashed through the swamp and continued on to the river.

Now the rider was seized by a veritable premonition of death. He screamed and tried to turn the wild horse around by pulling violently on its mane. But the horse pulled away and he could hardly stay mounted. They quickly reached the treacherous banks of the river where its rolling waves menaced. But in the last second the horse turned as quick as lightening. Its rider flew into the whirling waters and was carried downstream. The horse neighed as if laughing, turned around and ran back in the direction of the moor.

The rider was only able to save himself with the utmost exertion. As he returned home soaked to the bone, he knew he had encountered the wild steed Zawudschawu. The cold bath in the river had a sobering effect on the man and he never again visited the tavern.


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Friday, July 31, 2020

Flower of the Day: the Brittle Sandwort

G

Growing at over 5,000 feet elevation, the diminutive Brittle Sandwort is an alpine gem in the Pacific Northwest. Home to fairies and elves, look carefully to uncover its secrets. 


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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Fish Fairy Tales and the Sea! the Sea!


And in this fairy tale, the mouth of a fish is contemplated:

For a long time the fish in the sea had been unhappy because there was no order in their kingdom. Fish did not give each other any leeway; each swam right and left, whatever he felt like. Some swam in between those who wanted to swim together. Others blocked the path and the stronger fish gave the weaker ones a slap with their tails, hurling them long distances. Or even worse, the bigger fish devoured the smaller ones. “How nice it would be if we had a king, who spoke law and justice amongst us,” they all said. They agreed they would vote one fish to be their leader; they would pick whoever could swim the fastest through the waves and bring help to the weaker ones.

They positioned themselves on shore, one after another in rank and file. The pike gave a sign with his tail and they all swam away. The pike shot through the waves like an arrow and the herring, gudgeon, perch, carp and all the rest as they are called followed after. The flounder also swam along and hoped to reach the finish line.

All at once a cry was heard “The herring is out in front! The herring is out in front!”

Who is out in front?” the bad-tempered flounder screamed morosely. He was swimming far behind. “Who is out in front?

The herring, the herring!” was the reply. “

The bare naked herring?” cried the envious flounder flabbergasted, “the bare naked herring?”

Since that time the mouth of the flounder has always been crooked as punishment for those unkind words. 


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Friday, July 10, 2020

Summer Fairy Tale: The King of All Carrots

Grimm’s Fairy Tale No. 146 The Carrot King

Once there lived two brothers, both serving as soldiers. One brother was rich, the other poor. The poor one, seeking to alleviate his dire need, took off his soldier’s uniform and became a farmer. Now he spent his time digging, hoeing and hacking his little acre and sowed a row of carrots. The seed sprouted and a carrot soon grew that was so large and strong and noticeably thicker than the others. In fact, it would not stop growing. One could even say it was the Crown Prince or Ruler of all Carrots because never again has there been such a carrot (nor, I suspect, shall there ever be another one like it). Finally it was so big that it filled up an entire wagon and two oxen were required to pull it. The farmer did not know what to do with the thing, and he wondered whether the carrot was his fortune or misfortune. Finally he thought to himself “If you sell it, what great reward will you fetch? And the smaller carrots are just as good for eating. It is best that you present it to the king and honor him with the gift.”

So he loaded the carrot on his wagon, hitched up two oxen and drove to court to present the carrot to the king. “What kind of strange thing have you brought?” the king asked. “I have seen many odd things in my day, but never such a monster. From what type of seed could this have grown? Or perhaps, the vegetable has only grown this way for you because you are a child of fortune.”

“Oh no,” the farmer replied. “I am no fortune’s child. I am a poor soldier who could no longer feed himself. So I hung my soldier’s uniform on a nail and now tend the soil. I have a brother who is rich, whom you certainly know. But I have nothing and have been forgotten by the world.”

The king felt compassion for him and said “You shall overcome your poverty and will receive presents from me so that you shall be the equal of your rich brother.”

The king gave him enormous amounts of gold, farmland, fields and cattle and made him stone-rich, so that the riches of his brother did not compare. When his brother heard what had been accomplished with a single carrot, he was overcome with jealously and plotted how he, too, could secure such fortune for himself. But he wanted to do it in a much smarter way so he took gold and horses and brought them to the king. He thought the king would give him much greater riches in return, because his brother had received so much for a single carrot. The king received the brother’s gift and said, he did not know what to give him in return that could be rarer or better than the large carrot. So the rich brother had to accept his brother’s carrot as present from the king. He put it in his wagon and drove home. At home he did not know on whom he could take out his rage and anger until finally an evil thought came to him. He decided to kill his brother and so he hired murderers, who were instructed to lay in waiting. He now went to his brother and said “Dear brother, I know a secret treasure. Let us go out together, unearth it and share it.”

The brother let himself be convinced and innocently went along. But when they were walking, the murderers fell upon him, tied him up and wanted to hang him on a tree. They were just about to carry out the evil deed when the sound of song and the beating of hooves could be heard in the distance. Such a terror seized them, that in their haste they pushed their prisoner into a sack, hung it on a tree and took flight. But the prisoner worked nimbly with his fingers until there was a hole in the sack, through which he could stick his head. But who should be the next one to come down the path but a wandering student, a young fellow who rode through the forest singing loudly. When the one hanging in the sack noticed that someone was passing below he called out “Greetings to you in this fine hour.”

The student looked all around and did not know from where the voice came. Finally he said “Who is calling me?” From the treetop the prisoner now called “Raise your eyes. I am sitting up here in the sack of wisdom. In only a short amount of time I have learned many things, among them that all learning is as elusive as the wind. Soon I will have mastered everything, will come down and be wiser than all humankind. I understand the stars and can read the signs of the heavens, can decipher the blowing of the winds, the sand in the sea, know all manner of healing sickness, recognize the powers of herbs, birds and stones. If you sat here in my place, you too would soon understand the wonder that flows out of my sack of wisdom.”

When the student heard all this he was amazed and said “Blessed be the hour when I found you. Couldn’t I too sit a while in the sack?” From above the prisoner replied as if he did not relish the idea. “I will let you sit here for a very short time in return for a reward and good words. But you must wait another hour; I still have to learn a bit more.”

When the student had waited a bit, he began to be restless. The time seemed too long and he begged immediate entry to the sack; his thirst for wisdom was far too great to wait any longer. The prisoner in the sack pretended he had finally given in and said “So that I can emerge from this cocoon of wisdom, you must lower the sack by that rope tied to the tree. Then you can crawl inside.”

The student lowered the sack, opened it and freed the man inside. Then he called out eagerly “Now pull me up into the tree quickly!” He wanted to walk into the sack standing upright. “Stop!” cried out the other. “That won’t do at all!” He grabbed him by the head and pushed him in backwards, tied the opening around his head and pulled the disciple of wisdom up into the tree, where he swayed back and forth in the air. “How do you fare up there my dear fellow? See, don’t you already feel wisdom dawning with experience? Now sit quietly until you become much smarter than you already are.” 

And so he mounted the student’s horse, rode away and after an hour sent out someone to let the fellow out of the tree. 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Anatomy of a Fairy Tale

The fairy tale .... what is it?
Maerchen or Fairy Tale: a working definition 

A fairy tale is a fictitious story, originally conveyed orally to a group or community, bound together by language, custom or geography. Often fairy tales describe universal human experiences, core beliefs or values of the community. The problems of every day life are often explored: living within a family structure, finding a mate, securing status or riches, establishing oneself in life, seasons and cycles of the year. Main characteristics include fabulous or fantastic elements (for example, talking animals), a storyline that is played out independently from any specific time or place, an anti-hero or anti-heroine winning out against all odds (i.e., the youngest, smallest, dumbest, poorest succeeds over the oldest, tallest, smartest or richest). Fairy tale justice means the last shall be first and the first shall be last. As an oral tradition, the fairy tale often uses a narrative template with three-fold repetition. Only in the third segment is the adversary overcome, victory assured, success achieved.  The setting of fairy tales is often the forest. The forest is dark and forbidding but also imbued with magic.
Fairy tales often contain explicit violence, sex or macabre events, nonetheless their appeal is timeless. 

The Brothers Grimm write in their Preface to the First Volume of fairy tales that “Fairy tales, sagas and history stand together and present us with the fresh and lively spirit of pre-historical times. …The fairy tale is more poetic, the saga is more historical in nature.” 

The saga is anchored in a specific time, often a particular year, geographic region or city/town/place. Persons are mentioned by name, often a historical figure or king is mentioned. The saga frequently explains strange phenomena, unusual features in the landscape, the origin of an ethnic group or names that were once of local significance. Sagas are the memory of an historical event. History is explained by a community remembering its past and offering explanations for local custom and tradition. The saga is a means of connecting current circumstances to precise past reference points. Some of these reference points may be authentic, others are probably completely invented. 

The saga commemorates a distant folk memory or tradition. It has not been altered or corrupted by current events or commentaries. 

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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Grimm's Fairy Tale No. 176: A Lifetime


“Ach, God,” the ass replied, “that is a long time. Just think of my laborious existence!

We complete our mini-series on life and immortality in fairy tales with the following humerous story, straight from the donkey's mouth so-to-speak, 
Grimm’s Fairy Tale No. 176: A Lifetime. 

Translation: Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com
(Please read, enjoy, link to or pass this story on to friends. Please do not plagiarize, copy or pilfer. Thanks!)


When God created the world, he decided it would be fitting to set the life span of every creature. He called the ass, who asked “God, how long shall I live?”
“Thirty years,” God replied, “how does that suit you?”
“Ach, God,” the ass replied, “that is a long time. Just think of my laborious existence: I carry heavy burdens from dawn to dusk, drag sacks of corn to the mill so that others have bread to eat, for encouragement and refreshment I get nothing but kicks and beatings! Release me from a portion of this long time.”
God had pity and gave him eighteen years. Comforted, the ass departed and the dog appeared.
“How long do you want to live?” God asked him. “The ass thought thirty years would be too long, but surely you will be satisfied with that.”
The dog replied, “God, is that really your will? Just think how I must run. It’s unbearable for my feet! When I have lost my voice and can no longer bark and my teeth and can no longer bite, what else is left for me but to run from one corner to the next and growl?”
God agreed and gave him twelve years. Then the monkey approached. “Surely you want to live thirty years?” God said to him, “You don’t need to work like the ass and the dog but instead, are always happy-go-lucky.”
“Ach, God,” the monkey replied, “it would seem that way, but in fact it’s not. When it’s raining millet I never have a spoon! I’m supposed to always perform happy tricks and make faces so that other people laugh. But when people give me an apple and I bite into it, it is always sour. How often does sadness really hide behind humor! I could never endure thirty years.” So God in his mercy decided to give him ten years.
Finally man appeared. He was happy, healthy and hearty. He asked God to set his lifetime. “You shall live thirty years.” God said, “Is that enough?”
“What a short time!” the man cried, “When I have finally completed building my house and a fire is burning happily on the hearth, when I have planted trees that are finally blooming and bearing fruit and when I can finally be happy about life, then I shall die! O God, extend my lifetime.” “I will add the eighteen years deducted from the ass’s life,” God said. “That is not enough,” replied the man. “You shall also have the twelve years of the dog.” “Still not enough.” “Well and good, I will give you the ten years of the monkey, but more you shall not get.” Man left but he was still not satisfied..
And so, man lives seventy years. The first thirty are his human years, they pass quickly. He is happy and content. He enjoys his work and is pleased with his existence. Eighteen years of the ass follow, he must bear the many burdens that load him down. He must carry the corn that nourishes others and endure beatings and kicks that are the only reward for his faithful service. Twelve years of the dog follow. He must lie in a corner, growl and has no teeth to chew. And when this time is over, the ten years of the monkey make up the final years of his existence. Man is dimwitted, crazy, does every manner of foolish thing and becomes the laughing stock of his children. 



Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Fairy Tale for the Approach of Spring and the Last Shrieks of Winter

Grimm's Saga 275. The Shrieker




March 12th
On this day in 1753:Johann Peter Kriechbaum, mayor of the Upper Kainsbach Zent, told the following on March 12, 1753: “In the district called Spreng a ghost or spirit resided, who made all kinds of shrieking noises, like the sounds of deer, fox, donkey, swine or other animals, even every type of bird. For this reason, the people called him the shrieker. He has led many astray and no one dares linger in this meadow, especially herders.” This is what the mayor recently encountered when he was walking at night in his meadow in Spreng. He had used up all the water for watering his herd when a pig squealed in the little woods on the Langenbrombach side. It screeched as if a knife were stuck in its throat. The ghost has been seen as far as the Holler Forest, where they used to burn charcoal seventeen years ago. The coal burners complained bitterly at the time that many had been frightened by this ghost because he appeared in the form of a donkey. The deceased Johann Peter Weber said the same thing. He had loaded coal there at night to take it to the Michelstadt Hammer. Heinrich Germann, the old mayor of the Zent stated that when he was once tending his oxen in the Spreng field, it was as if a fox ran at him, but when he beat him away with the whip, the fox immediately vanished.

Fairy Tale Factum:The Cent was an administrative and judicial unit created in the Middle Ages. It roughly covered 100 families. The spelling was subsequently changed to Zent and was said to cover an area including ten villages (some accounts say 20). The Zent was governed by a count (Zentgraf, usually a farmer) or presiding judge (Zentschoeffen), often the village mayor or sheriff. These districts were marked off with border stones (Grenzsteine or Zentsteine), some of which have survived to the present day.

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Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Impenetrable Elfmound





My home is the impenetrable elfmound where sump meets hillock.  Once I pledged my heart to a prince but I was kidnapped by a king; my swain freed me from the king’s cruel advances only to abandon me soon after. Were it not for my horse or help from the fairy folk I would have been lost. But by and by I came to this place of moss and mold. I have put on the wings of the fairies as armor and here I shall live for all time forth. For in the muck every army sinks, every villain is swallowed, and love is unknown. 


Excerpt from Fairy Tale of Prince and Horse 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Eve Dinner Parties: a Fairy Tale from the Brothers Grimm


Nr. 116 Der Liebhaber zum Essen eingeladenThe 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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Friday, December 6, 2019

A Christmas Fairy Tale: The Hinzelmann of Hudemuehle Castle

Fairy Tale of the Hinzelmann
Hille Bingels' Wedding Party


The old castle Hudemuehle is on the Lueneburg Heath not far from the Aller River. You can still see the remnants of its stone walls embedded in the soft earth. A long time ago a mysterious house spirit haunted the castle. The spirit called himself Hinzelmann and he appeared in the year 1584 at the lord’s Christmas feast. It was said that the spirit revealed himself to the gathered revelers with banging, screeching and clanging sounds. 




The lord was soon annoyed, his guests frightened and all left the party early. Soon Hinzelmann appeared frequently to the castle inhabitants until he no longer frightened anyone. Many castle dwellers heard his voice or discovered the fruits of his labour: freshly baked bread, a cleanly swept room, chopped wood and fire on the hearth. By day he could be seen walking casually through the corridors. At night his snoring could be heard in the attic bedroom and the maid could discern a small indentation in the pillow where he slept.


It was only a matter of time before he started to engage in conversation with the servants and soon with the lord himself. He was happy to perform a variety of kitchen tasks, and loved to help the servants prepare feasts. While he worked he usually sang or laughed loudly. Whenever there was a celebration, he would appear dressed in colorful garb wearing a mask. Often he would perform tricks, recite poetry and play the harp. But most annoying: he loved to reveal the secrets people thought lay deeply hidden within their hearts. He would often blurt out some indiscretion and then laugh uncontrollably.



Once at the Andreas Night Feast he announced to the celebrants that the lord of the castle thought his wife was a bit too thin and dour. He added that the lord himself had had a difficult time recently mounting his horse after a visit to the tavern. After this announcement, all guests turned to look at the lord, who did not laugh. But the spirit continued, giving his master no time to reply. He announced that he would soon wed his lovely bride Hille Bingels. He planned to celebrate his marriage at the upcoming Christmas Pageant and asked all to attend. The lord of the castle, now quivering with rage blurted out “You with your bulbous nose! No one would marry you! The bells on your boots are much too loud and annoying. If only you would go away!” With that the entire assembly fell silent. Some thought a single tear slid down Hinzelmann’s cheek before he vanished.

There was much hustle and bustle around the castle as the Christmas feast approached. Rooms had to be opened and beds made for the coming guests. Food had to be prepared. The musicians had to practice their music, the singers their song. In short, life at the castle hummed like a beehive. During this time the corridors were monitored, the bedrooms checked, the kitchen watched to see if Hinzelmann would return. But he did not frequent the kitchen as was his habit nor did he appear in the corridors whistling merrily. It seemed to all that he had abandoned the castle. It was rumoured that he had taken offense and the cook said ’twas a pity, for he had been a good worker.

As Christmas day approached, the servants ran to and fro, the mistress of the house oversaw the decorating of the great hall and the lord sampled and selected the wines and stout. The day before the feast, the lord announced an even larger guest list than originally anticipated. This sent the cook and the servants scurrying. It was not surprising that everyone had forgotten poor Hinzelmann.
At last it was Christmas. The pageant began cheerfully and peacefully enough. The entire hall was decked with fragrant greenery, the tables were all set, the hall was filled with merry-makers and singers. The most delicious food was served to the guests and wine flowed. As the hour approached midnight, the lord’s entertainers now brought forth their musical instruments. But soon a faint tinkling of bells could be heard above the cheerful melody. At first it seemed as if bells were ringing far away but then the sound grew into violent metallic clanging. When the noise erupted into a loud roar, Hinzelmann burst into the center of the hall. He wore bright clothing, a cap with bells and a mask covered his eyes. “I shall perform a magic trick for your enjoyment!” he cried. With that he conjured up a little pony, which danced and pranced in a circle. “Me, my, mo, Up you now go!” he cried. He held up a rope, which now extended to the ceiling and up the rope the pony did go until it finally disappeared. 



“Now I shall introduce my lovely bride, Hille Bingels, applause please!” With that a diminutive form was seen illuminated next to him. She appeared as a dainty speck of light, likewise wore a mask and a costume of many colors. 

There was wild applause as Hille, too, made her ascent and vanished into the ceiling along with the pony. 


Gasps of amazement could be heard from all present as Hinzelman swirled around and around. “Look, my dear friends,” he cried out “His bulbous nose!” and he gripped his sides in laughter and pointed to the lord at the head table. 


The laughter faded into gasps as each person in the audience first gazed upon the lord and then touched his own nose. Each guest’s noses had grown into a round, potato-sized appendage but the lord of the castle, his nose was the size of a ripe pumpkin. 




Amid cries of terror, shrieks of alarm the chimes of bells could be heard once more. “Me, my, mo, Up the rope I now go!” and with that the Hinzelmann flew up the rope and vanished. The guests were left gripping their noses.


Some rushed to the windows and saw Hinzelmann and his bride in a sled, racing from the castle laughing merrily. Soon the sound of sleigh bells became faint and vanished altogether. Some thought it was a dream. But one of the ladies who had attended found a bell from Hinzelman’s hat lying on the floor. She kept it and treasured it forever. And to this day the people who live near the Aller River all have rather bulbous noses.

My story is now told, the light grown old. 



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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Elves of Christmas, A Fairy Tale for the Winter Season

Grimm’s Fairy Tale No. 39: The Elves of Christmas (or: Die Wichtelmaenner)


Through no fault of his own, a shoemaker had slipped into abject poverty. Finally he became so poor that he had nothing left but a bit of leather for a single pair of shoes. And so in the evening he cut out the leather and planned to begin his work the next morning.

Because he had a clear conscience he went to bed peacefully, commended himself to God and fell asleep. In the morning after saying his prayer, he wanted to sit down to work. But there before him stood two shoes on his table, completely finished! He was amazed and did not know what to say. He took the shoes in his hand to examine them more carefully. They were so cleanly made and no stitch was wrong, the shoes seemed to be his masterpiece! 


Soon a buyer arrived and because he liked the shoes so much he paid more than the usual amount and shoemaker could negotiate more than the customary fee.




Now with the money he was able to buy leather for two pairs of shoes. In the evening he cut out the leather and intended to start work the next morning with a fresh heart. 



But when he awoke the shoes were already finished and buyers were also not in short supply. They offered him so much money that he could buy leather for four pairs of shoes. And so it continued. Whatever he cut out at night was finished in the morning so that he soon had an honorable income, and finally, he even became a wealthy man.




Now it happened one evening not long before Christmas, that the man began his cutting work. He said to his wife “How would it be if we stayed up tonight to see who lends us a helping hand?” The wife was satisfied and made a light. 


Then they hid themselves in the corner, behind the clothes hanging there, and watched. 



When it was midnight two small little naked men emerged, sat down at the shoemaker’s table and took up the freshly cut leather. They began to stitch, sew and tap so that the shoemaker, in his amazement, could not turn his eyes away. They did not stop until everything was finished and stood complete on the table. Then they hopped away quickly.

The next morning the woman said “The small men have made us rich. We must show our gratitude. They were busy running around all night and had no clothes to warm them. They must have been freezing! Do you know? I will sew a little shirt, jacket, jerkin and pants for them. I will knit for each one a pair of stockings and you shall make a pair of shoes for each.” The man replied “Yes, I am satisfied.” 



And in the evening when they had everything finished they placed the gifts on the table instead of the leather. Then they hid to see what the little men would do. At midnight they appeared and wanted to immediately start their work, but they did not find leather cut out and ready but cute pieces of clothing. First they were amazed but then they were gripped by tremendous joy. Quickly they put on the clothing, ran their hands over the pretty cloth and sang:

“Are we not fellows fine? Why should we be shoemakers more?”

Then they jumped and danced and leapt over chair and bench. Finally they danced through the door. They never returned and the shoemaker lived a long and prosperous life and as long as he lived he was successful in everything he did. 


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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Grimm’s Children Legends No. 1 Saint Joseph in the Forest


St. Joseph in the Forest: a Fairy Tale of Saints and Sinners 


There once was a mother who had three daughters. The oldest was naughty and mean. The middle child was much better, although she, too, had her shortcomings. But the youngest was a pious and godly child. The mother was so peculiar that it was precisely the oldest daughter that she loved most and she could not suffer the youngest one. That is why she often sent the poor girl into the big woods to be rid of her. She thought the girl would get lost and never more return. 

But like every good child, this girl had a guardian angel, who did not desert her. The angel always brought her back to the correct path. However, one day it seemed that her guardian angel was not guiding her by the hand for the child could not find her way out of the forest. The girl ran and ran until evening fell. 

Then she saw a light burning in the distance, ran toward it and came to a small hut. The child knocked and the door opened. Behind it, she found a second door, where she knocked again. An old man with a snow-white beard and venerable appearance opened the door. It was none other than the Blessed Saint Joseph. He spoke kindly to her “Come dear child, sit next to the fire on my little footstool and warm yourself. I’ll bring you a little clear water if you are thirsty. I don’t have anything for you to eat here in the woods except a few roots. You must first peel and cook them.”


Saint Joseph gave her the roots: the girl scraped them clean, then she took a piece of the pancake and bread her mother had given her and put everything in a little pot on the fire and cooked porridge. When it was finished Saint Joseph said “I am so hungry, give me a bit of your food.” The child was obliging and gave him more than she kept for herself. But God’s blessing was there and so the child’s hunger was satisfied. After they had eaten, Saint Joseph said “Let us go to bed: but I have only one bed. You lay down in it; I will lie on the straw on the ground.”

“No,” answered the child, “you stay in your bed; the straw is soft enough for me.”

Saint Joseph took the child in his arm and carried it to bed. The girl said her prayer and went to sleep. The next morning when she woke up, she wanted to say good morning to Saint Joseph but did not see him. She got out of bed and looked but could not find him in any corner. Finally she saw a sack with money behind the door. The sack was so heavy that the child could not carry it. On it was written that this was for the child who had slept there that night. The child took the sack and jumped away and returned happily to her mother. Because she gave her mother all the money, the woman had to be satisfied with the child.
The next day the second daughter also had an urge to go into the woods. The mother gave her a much larger piece of pancake and bread. 

The same thing happened to her. In the evening she came to the little hut of Saint Joseph, who gave the girl roots to make porridge. When the girl was finished the Saint said “I am so hungry; give me some of your food.” The child replied “Both of us can eat from the porridge.”

When afterward Saint Joseph offered his bed and wanted to lie down on the straw, the child replied “No, lay down on the bed, we both have enough room there.” Saint Joseph took the girl in his arm, laid her in bed and slept on the straw. 



In the morning the child awoke and looked for Saint Joseph. He was gone but behind the door the girl found a small sack with money. But the sack was only as large as the girl’s little hand. On it was written “For the child who slept here this night.” The child took the sack and ran home and gave it to its mother. But secretly the girl kept a few coins for herself.

Now the oldest daughter became curious and wanted to go into the woods the next morning. The mother gave her a pancake and as much bread and cheese as her heart desired. 

In the evening the girl found Saint Joseph in his little hut, just like the other two had found him. When the porridge was finished and Saint Joseph spoke “I am so hungry, give me some of your food!” the girl replied “Wait until I have eaten my fill.” Whatever I have left you can have.” But the girl ate almost everything and Saint Joseph had to scrape the bottom of the little bowl. The good man offered the girl his bed and wanted to lie on the straw. The child accepted this without hesitation, lay down in the little bed and left the hard straw for the old man. The next morning when the girl awoke, Saint Joseph could not be found.

But the maid did not worry: she looked behind the door for the sack of money. She thought something was lying on the ground, but because she couldn’t really tell what it was, she bent over and hit her nose on the floor. Something stuck to her nose when she got up. To the girl’s horror it was a second nose sticking to her own. The girl began to scream and howl, but it didn’t help. She had to look at her nose and see how it protruded so very far from her face. 


She ran away screaming until she found Saint Joseph. She fell down at his feet and prostrated herself. Finally, in his mercy, he took away the nose and what’s more, gave her two Pfennigs.


When the girl returned, her mother stood in front of the door and asked “What presents have you received?”

The girl lied and said “A big sack full of money, but I lost it on the way home!”

“Lost it!” the mother cried. “We sure want to find it again.” And she took the girl by the hand and wanted to go out searching. First the girl started to cry and did not want to go. But finally she went along. On the way, the two were overcome by so many snakes and lizards, that they could not save themselves. They stung the child until she was dead, but the mother they stung in her foot because she had not raised the girl better. 






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