Sunday, February 12, 2012
Frau Holle (or Mother Hulda or Holda, as she is sometimes called) is a fairy tale character in Germany and other Northern European countries. In the story a girl falls down a well and emerges in a strange country. There she meets Frau Holle, who agrees to take care of her in exchange for for the girl doing chores. Among her jobs is shaking out the old woman's bedding until the feathers fly. After a year goes by and the girl has done all her work to Holle's satisfaction, the old lady sends her home with rich rewards, but not before revealing that when the girl shook the feathers out, snow fell thickly over the earth; the smoke from her fire was fog and the sound of her reeling flax, the thunder. The girl's lazy sister tries to reproduce her results, but with no success. There are still parts in Northern Europe where, when it snows, people still say "Frau Holle is shaking her bedding," and she even appears on Christmas cards and Advent calendars.