top of page

Mother Hulda ~ a Grimm Brothers tale


The stamps' cool talent of making fairy tales into a visual feast, crossed my path with "Frau Holle" from Grimm's Tales; because it was impossible for me to be indifferent to the story behind such attractive drawings 🕵️‍♀️ Let's start reading this 1967 German edition of the four stamp series with its fairy tale.


The story opens with motifs similar to Cinderella. The mother, who lives with her two daughters, welcomes us. The stepdaughter is very hardworking, and extremely kind. Other girl is just as lazy and indolent. As expected from a fairy tale, the mother had her stepdaughter do all the work because she loved her own daughter more. Every day, the girl would sit by a well and weave cloth for hours. She worked so hard that blood gushed from her fingers.


One day, the spool on which she wound thread was covered in blood. Thereupon, the girl bent over the well and wanted to wash the reel; but the reel slipped from his hand and fell into the well.


The girl ran to her stepmother crying; and told about the accident that happened to her. The woman scolding the girl and cried: "You will bring it the way you dropped the reel into the well!"


Then the girl returned to the well; and jumped into it to get the reel. She fell asleep at the bottom of the well. When she woke up, she found herself in a beautiful meadow.

While walking in this green meadow, she came across a bakery on the way. The oven was filled with bread. The bread called out to the girl: "Please take me out of the oven, take me out of the oven, otherwise I'll burn, I'm already baked!"


The girl get closed the oven and took out all the bread with a shovel. Then she went her way. A tree appeared before her; bright red apples were hanging on the tree, the tree called out to the girl: "Shake me, shake me! We apples are already ripe!"

The girl shook the tree and the apples fell on the ground like rain. She shook it until there were no apples left on the tree; and walking her way again.


Finally, she reached a small house. An old woman was looking out the window. The woman's teeth are huge. When she saw it, she was terrified and wanted to escape from there; but the old woman called after her: "My dear girl, why are you afraid? Come stay here; if you do all the housework well, no harm will come to you. The most important thing you should pay attention to is to make my bed well and shake it well. When you do this, the feathers inside the bed will fly like snowflakes. My name is Hulda."

When Mother Hulda spoke so sweetly, the girl was relieved; she decided to stay there. She went in and started her work. She happily did all the housework. She always shook the mattress so vigorously that the feathers flew like snowflakes. That's why she lives a comfortable life in the old woman's house, does not hear bad words, eats delicious food every day.

The little girl stayed with Mother Hulda for a long time; but she always felt a sadness inside, she missed her home. Although her life here was much better than her own home, she still wanted to go. One day she couldn't stand it and said to Mother Hulda: "I miss my home so much. My life here underground is very good, but I can't stay any longer. I want to go back up again."


Mother Hulda replied, "My beautiful child, since you have served me so well so far, I will lift you up with my own hand."

She took the girl by the hand; led her to a large door. The door has been opened. When the girl came under the door, a strong golden rain started and when she looked in front of her, she saw that she had come to her mother's house. When the girl entered the garden of the house, the rooster climbed over the well and began to crow: "Cock-a-doodle-doo! Our little girl has returned to her house covered in gold!"

Since the girl was covered with gold, both her mother and half-sister greeted her with a smile.

The girl explained what happened to her one by one. When her mother learned how these gold coins were obtained, she wanted to give them to her lazy daughter. She placed his daughter at the head of the well and began to weave cloth. The girl stuck a needle in her finger so that her spool was covered in blood. Then she threw the reel into the well. She jumped after herself. Like the other girl, she found herself in a meadow. She started walking the same way. When she got to the bakery, the bread shouted again: "Please take me out, take me out or I'll burn. I'm already baked!"

But the lazy girl replied: "I honestly don't have time to get my head dirty!" she went on his way. After a while, she arrived near the apple tree. The tree called out: "Whatever, shake me off! We've always been apples!"

The girl said, "Oh, how much you know! Let me shake you off so that apples fall on my head, right?" She walked away.

When she arrived at Mother Hulda's house, was not afraid at all, for she had already heard of her big teeth. She immediately entered the woman's service. She worked hard the first day. She did everything Hulda said. She was only thinking about the gold the old woman would give her. But on the second day, she started to be lazy, to throw things away. On the third day, this laziness increased once more. She didn't want to get out of bed in the morning. The lazy girl wasn't making Hulda's bed either. Before long, this situation angered Mother Hulda; and fired her from her job.

Our lazy girl was delighted as she awaited the golden rain. Mother Hulda took her to the big door, too; But when the girl came under the door, instead of gold, a huge cauldron of pitch was poured over her head.

Mother Hulda: "Here is the reward for your services!" she closed the door. When the lazy girl returned home, she was covered with tar. Again the rooster greeted our daughter and shouted: "Cock-a-doodle-doo! Our lazy girl came home all black!" This pitch has always been on our lazy girl.



P.S: I had never heard this tale when I was little. I could not see it in the Grimm Tales compilations translated into our language in my research; but it must have had an important place for the Germans, as they decorated a series of stamps and delivered the story to us by mail. 🎈✨



35 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page