Gold Mary and Pitch Mary aka Mother Hulda --- German Fairy Tales (8)
January 3, 2018 12:23pm CST
This fairy tale is also known as Mother Hulda or Frau Holle. The story in a nutshell: A widow lives with her ugly and lazy daughter and her beautiful and diligent step-daughter. The step-daughter has to do all the work in the household. One day when she’s spinning beside the well, she pricks her finger at the spindle which falls into the well. She leaps after it and finds herself in a different world. She meets an old woman, Frau Holle, and becomes her maidservant. After a while, she feels homesick. When she leaves, Frau Holle lets gold rain on her to thank her for her diligence and good behaviour. When the step-mother sees the gold, she immediately sends her lazy daughter to the well. She, however, doesn’t want to work for Frau Holle at all. She leaves for home covered in pitch. The fairy tale shows two opposing ways of life: some people are born into negative living conditions with hardly a chance of improvement. Others are lucky from the start and live well without an effort. The fairy tale offers comfort for the disadvantaged by emphasising that a hard life leads to a certain obedience and acceptance of fate which then may be rewarded. On the other hand, someone who’s spoilt from the beginning may not be able to cope with hardship. When the girl loses the spindle and is thus unable to go on working, she runs to her step-mother, but the woman gives her the cold shoulder and makes her fend for herself. By being forced to become independent the girl finds happiness in the end. On the way to Frau Holle’s house she passes an oven from which loaves of bread ask her to take them out because they’re ready. The loaves in the oven can be seen as a symbol for pregnancy. The apples which call out to be picked because they‘re ripe can be seen as a symbol for maturation. The girl accepts these changes and is richly rewarded. Her step-sister doesn’t and is punished. Gold Mary’s main task is to shake out Frau Holle’s bed so that it may snow on earth. Snow stands for wisdom and good advice with which the girl returns to her former life. She’s welcomed by a rooster, the Christian symbol for eternity, meaning that what she’s gained and acquired will stay with her. The origin of the fairy tale Frau Holle is unknown but researchers assume that the characters come from Norse mythology. Frau Holle = Hel. Hel is the queen of the Norse underworld. Or Hulda, in early Germanic mythology, the goddess of marriage, a beneficent guardian of all maidens. In the mythology of nature, Gold Mary can be seen as incorporating the sun, Pitch Mary as incorporating the moon, Frau Holle as the great goddess Mother Earth. --- P.S. If you're interested in more interpretations of German fairy tales, you can click on the green bar at the top of the site.
23 people like this
• United States
This is a brand new fairy tale for me!! Thank you for this one!!! A very good lesson to all in this one. Good behavior is often rewarded, but darn that bad behavior does not bode well for a human. I am inspired to work on good behavior, for sure.
• Aurora, Missouri
I've read this fairy tale before, Malu. I pulled down an armload of ebooks from Gutenburg.org. They ranged from American fairy tales all around the world, telling stories that can be strange or unworldly to stories like we might share with Pretty when she was little. I admit, some of them make very little sense to me, but I figured they came from long ago times when they probably made a great deal of sense to the people who came up with the stories. *shrug!* When I come across one that baffles me I finish reading it in hopes that something in the story will give me a handle on the rest of it. Once in a while, that does happen. Most of the time, I am still clueless when I finish the story.
@BelleStarr The Little Mermaid is not a genuine fairy tale. It was written by the Dane Hans Christian Andersen in 1837. Genuine fairy tales have no authors. They've been told and retold for centuries if not millennia. You may get a wrong impression from this photo. In reality, the statue is a bit smaller than life size. I've seen it several times.