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Monday, July 8, 2013

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures--Little Sister and the Month Brothers


Today we are going to discuss a wonderful Cinderella story called Little Sister and the Month Brothers. From the research I have done it looks like this story is from Czechoslovakia. There are also other versions around, but I have not checked them out yet. In the collage below are the other two versions as well as both the paperback and hard cover of our featured book.  I also found another version on-line here.

Before going into the story a little history on Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia was a sovereign state from 1918 to 1993. On January 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two countries: Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Source
From 1939 to 1945 Czechoslovakia was under Nazi Germany rule, however its government was still operation in the United Kingdom. In 1945 the Soviet Union took over the eastern part of the country.(Source)

Now onto our story. I found the full text available here.

In this story, there is Little Sister. No one knows her name and everyone calls her Little Sister. She lives in a cottage with her stepmother and stepsister. Little Sister is an orphan and her stepmother makes her do all the work. However Little Sister is always singing or humming to herself and always pleasant. Each day she grows more beautiful and kinder. One day the stepmother realizes that if a suitor was to come to the house he may choose Little Sister over her own daughter. The stepmother and stepsister plot to rid themselves of Little Sister. They decide to send her out in the cold winter weather to look for violets. They lock the door behind her and tell her not to return without the violets.

Little Sister knows she will not find violets in the winter, but searches for them anyway. She walks without a coat through the fierce wind and snow. Finally when she feels she cannot take another step she sees a light high above her. She goes towards and and uses all her courage and energy to climb a tall rock mountain. At the top of it she finds twelve men around a fire. She knows at once that they must be the Month Brothers. She approaches them politely and January asks her what she needs. She asks politely to warm near the fire and then explains about needing violets to return home. Since she is so polite, January tells his brothers they must help Little Sister, so he passes the staff to Brother February. February passes it to March  who passes it to April saying April is the only one who can give violets. Sure enough with each pass of the staff, the weather and trees change like the seasons. When April has the staff the grass grows and the violets grow. April tells Little Sister to pick as many as she would like. She uses her dress to hold them and fills it and runs home.

Stepmother and stepsister are amazed to see her with the violets. They do not thank her, but try to come up with another scheme to get rid of Little Sister. The next night they send her out with a bucket telling her not to come home without fresh strawberries. Again she does not have a coat, but she knows where to go this time. She heads to the Month Brothers. Again she is polite and they help her. The staff is passed to June. June tells her she may pick only five strawberries, which she does and runs home. The stepmother and stepsister greedily eat the strawberries and find them to be the best thing they have ever tasted. They ask her where she got them. The next day the stepsister dresses in all her fur to go out and get more. She finds the Month Brothers and when January asks what she needs she says she will only talk to June and is very rude. The brothers do not like this so January bangs the staff on the ground and there is a blinding blizzard and stepsister cannot see. She tries to find her way home, but cannot. After waiting quite awhile for her daughter stepmother becomes worried and goes to look for her. They were never seen again. 

Little Sister still had to do all the work, but now there was no one to complain, yell or order her around. One day an honest farmer came and asked her to marry him. She did and they lived happily in the cottage sharing the work with  minimal complaining.

Our craft for this story was to color twelve outlines of men as the Month Brothers. Then we made them into a wreath. We used an embroidery hoop wrapped with  four seasons of ribbon.
We taped the men onto it and then added some tissue paper in the center to be their fire.




4 comments:

  1. I remember the story from my childhood in the former Soviet Union. It was just called "12 Months" in Russian. There was even a movie done on it! I like the craft that you created, and I might look for these books too.

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  2. I love your blog! I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award: http://toddlefast.blogspot.com/2013/07/versatile-blogger-award.html. I hope you'll accept it!

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  3. What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing at the Culture Swapper!

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