The Beauty of Christmas Legends

Saturday’s Tales for Christmas,  December 19, 2020

Shall we go back to our childhood days today? The mythical Santa Claus and his magical sleigh, a sweet babe in a manger who brings love to the world, bright star lights on evergreen trees, festive feasts of meats, sweets, and gingerbread houses, the lonely elf on the shelf, and perhaps a boozy eggnog. One more item we can’t forget are the Christmas legends and fairy tales that make our holidays so warm and memorable.

 

Who doesn’t remember The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen? If you’ve forgotten this sad but poignant story, you can read it here at American Literature. My mom used to tell us this story every Christmas Eve as we drove around town to see all the Christmas lights.  And, this story is especially dedicated to Grandmas, Nanas, and Gramzies because this is a grandparent story too.

The audio is a real treat. The Little Match Girl was meant to be a read-aloud.

Read it here at American Literature:

https://americanliterature.com/author/hans-christian-andersen/short-story/the-little-match-girl

Listen to the audio storybook read by Ewan McGregor, with page-turning illustrations. Beautiful!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHnDT1SO8sc 

 

There is another Christmas legend, less known and one you may not have read. The Christmas Spider (also known as The Spider’s Gift, The Spider’s Miracle, and other cultural variations), a folktale originally from the Ukraine.

I found this story in an old Christmas book. You will be pleasantly surprised how a story about a spider for Christmas will endear you to these odd little creatures.

Read it here, reproduced from my Christmas Book.

The gray spider worked very hard every day making long strands of silk that he wove into a web in which he caught troublesome flies. But he noticed that everyone turned away from him because, they said, he was so unpleasant to look at with his long crooked legs and furry body. Of course the gray spider didn’t believe that, because he had only the kindliest feelings for everybody.

One day when he was crossing the stream he looked into the water. There he saw himself as he really was. “Oh,” he thought, “I am very unpleasant to look at. I shall keep out of people’s way.” He was very sad and hid himself in the darkest corner of the stable.

There he again began to work as he always had, weaving long strands of silk into webs and catching flies. The donkey and the ox and the sheep who lived in the stable thanked him for his kindness, because now they were no longer bothered with the buzzing flies. That made the spider very happy.

One night, exactly at midnight, the gray spider was awakened by a brilliant light. He looked about and saw that the light came from the manger where a tiny Child lay on the hay. The stable was filled with glory, and over the Child bent a beautiful mother. Behind her stood a man with a staff in his hand, and the ox and the donkey and all the white sheep were down on their knees.

Suddenly a gust of cold wind swept through the stable and the Baby began to weep from the cold. The mother bent over Him but could not cover Him enough to keep Him warm.

The little spider took his silken web and laid it at Mary’s feet (for it was Mary) and Mary took up the web and covered the Baby with it. It was soft as thistledown and as warm as wool. The Child stopped His crying and smiled at the little gray spider.

Then Mary said, “Little gray spider, for this great gift to the Babe you may have anything you wish.”

“Most of all,” said the spider, “I wish to be beautiful.”

“That I cannot give you,” Mary answered. “You must stay as you are for as long as you live. But this I grant you. Whenever anyone sees a spider at evening, he will count it a good omen, and it shall bring him good fortune.”

This made the spider very happy, and to this day, on Christmas Eve, we cover the Christmas tree with “angel’s hair” in memory of the little gray spider and his silken web.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing you all the happiest of holidays,  the gift of love, the gift of peace, and the magic of Christmas stories!

 

For one more Christmas story—one of my own creations—stop by my December 7, 2017 blog post for Christmas River Ghost. A ghostly holiday story about family, celebration, coming home, and a Christmas peacock.

“They come—through the icy wind, between the naked trees, walking the bridge, by Eagle Hill River … on Christmas Eve … ”

Read the Christmas River Ghost:

https://paulacappa.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/christmas-river-ghost-by-paula-cappa/ 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, romance, and mainstream fiction.

 Stop by every month or sign up to follow my blog to read one short story every month. 

 

Comments are welcome!

8 Comments

Filed under Christmas ghost stories, Christmas stories, fairy tales, fantasy, fiction, fiction bloggers, flash fiction, free short stories, free short stories online, literary short stories, literature, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs

8 responses to “The Beauty of Christmas Legends

  1. Cynthia Wetzler

    Hi Paula, I just finished reading and listening–all so beautiful. I loved your peacock story again. I think peacocks have captured my heart and spirit all over again. The wonderful Christmas spider story–I guess Charlotte hadn’t come along yet. (Charlotte’s Web) But The Little Match Girl which I have read a hundred times made me cry even more this year–we are all so sensitive now. I keep thinking of those children separated from their parents at the border and children who are literally hungry. I wish I had a magic wand. Blessings, Cynthia

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Cynthia, for your thoughts. Yeah, we are more raw these days to the sufferings going on in our country and in the world community. The Little Match Girl story cuts every reader in a deep way. Hunger especially strikes me as dreadful. No one should go hungry on this abundant planet of food. Our local food pantries are in great need of donations. At the very least, we could all drop off a small bag of groceries when possible. I think it was Mother Teresa who said “to feed one person at a time” is the way. “Just one, one, one.”

      Like

  2. Hi Brian, Wow, that sounds great. What stories did you read? Do you have any recommendations for us?

    Like

    • Paula,
      Edited, here is the list of stories people read:
      “The Christmas Eves of Aunt Elise,” Thomas Ligotti
      “Booth’s Ghost,” Karen Joy Fowler (abridged)
      “My Last Landlady,” Neil Gaiman
      “The Raven,” Edgar Allan Poe
      “Jerry Bundler,” W.W. Jacobs (the guy who wrote “The Monkey’s Paw”)
      “The Ghost’s Summons,” Ada Buisson
      “The Velveteen Rabbit,” as rewritten by Daniel Lavery in _The Merry Spinster_
      “The Moonlit Road,” Ambrose Bierce
      “An Encounter at Glen Cloy,” by Brian Bixby and read by Brian and by E.J. Barnes
      “Captain Santos’s Leg,” from _A Treasury of American Folklore_
      “Killer-Hrapp” excerpt from the Laxdaela Saga (retold in modern dialect as performance art by Alexx)
      “The Woman’s Ghost Story,” by Algernon Blackwood
      “The Witch Sings a Bach Chorale,” and “The Multitude,” both by Hannah Faith Notess from her book “The Multitude”
      “The Inexperienced Ghost,” H.G. Wells
      _A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being A Ghost Story of Christmas_, Charles Dickens (sequence from Stave Three with the Ghost of Christmas Present)

      Clearly, not all of these were Christmas-themed. But then, neither were M.R. James’s Christmas ghost stories, as I’m sure you know.
      Most of these are recognized authors, and their works can be found online (if they are old) or in paperback (if they are recent). I am the only person vainglorious enough to have read a piece I wrote myself, though in past some others have done so as well.
      I hope one or two of these is unfamiliar to your nd you enjoy reading them!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In the same spirit, a friend organized a holiday ghost story reading party this last Saturday. We were reading ghost stories from 1 until 5 PM.
    The best of the holidays to you, Paula!

    Liked by 1 person

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