Fiber Folklore – Mother Holle

From the Brothers Grimm Household Tales

A widow has two daughters, one, a beautiful stepdaughter, and the other, her natural daughter who is lazy and ugly. They make the stepchild work like Cinderella, carrying out the ashes and doing all the spinning, until her fingers bleed. One day as she is spinning by the well the spindle becomes bloody. As she leans over the well to rinse it, she drops it into the water. When she tells her step-mother of the accident she is sent back to retrieve the spindle. She returns but is so distraught that she jumps into the water, only to awaken into a lovely meadow. There she comes upon an oven full of bread which calls out, “Take me out, or else I’ll burn.” So the girl takes out all the loaves. Then she comes upon an apple tree which calls out, “Shake me, my apples are ripe.” So she shakes the tree and gathers the apples into a pile. Then she meets an old woman with sharp teeth who speaks kindly and offers her lodging and food if she will clean the house and shake the feather bed until feathers fly thick as snow. This the girl does and is well rewarded with good food. But after a time the girl becomes homesick. The old woman, who is called Mother Holle, gladly releases her and shows her the way home. As she passes back into her old world, a shower of gold falls upon her and sticks to her clothing, and a cock crows: “Cock-a-doodle-doo! My golden maiden, what’s new with you?” When the stepmother sees all the wealth the girl has brought with her, she sends her lazy daughter to obtain the same. But the lazy daughter will not take the bread out, nor shake the apple tree, and is lazy in the house of Mother Holle as well. When she returns she is covered with pitch rather than gold. The cock crows: “Cock-a-doodle-doo, My dirty maiden, what’s new with you?” The pitch never washes off as long as she lives.


One thought on “Fiber Folklore – Mother Holle

  1. Judy Mielitz says:

    I thought I had read all of the Brothers Grimm tales when I was a child and years later to my own children. Lately I have seen quite a few new ones to me. I always loved the lesson at the end.

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