It's Christmas Eve. It's night and the cold outside is very sharp. The snow like a white blanket is covering the streets of the village and the mountains around.
The father and the mother went to the church. The children are sad, because they didn't go with them. Then the grandmother, in order to chase away the sadness of the children, she began to tell them a christmas story.
- Once upon a time, a poor man set out from his hut in order to find fire. He was going from door to door, he was knocking in order to open to him and he was saying: - Help me, my good people! My wife has given birth to a child... I must light a fire, in order to warm up both her and the baby.
But it was night. They were all asleep locked up in their houses and no one gave an answer to his pleas. The man kept walking on and was ever moving further away from his poor hut.
At some point he saw from afar a little light. Full of joy, that he would finally find fire, he walked in that direction. When he approached, he saw that there was a big fire and around it there were lying down a herd of white sheep.
The herd was supervised by an old shepard. And the man who needed the fire, came closer to the sheep and he saw that at the feet of the shepherd there were lying down three big dogs.
When the man came close to the dogs, they woke up and they opened their big mouths, in order to bark. But their voice got paralysed in their mouth and no barking agitated the silence of the night.
Then the man saw, that their hair raised in their back, that their teeth shone and they threw themselves at him. He felt that one dog grabbed him by his knees, another from his hand and the third was hanged by his neck. Their teeth however remained paralyzed and the dogs, without causing him any harm, pulled back.
Then the man tried to come close to the fire, but the sheep got so much squeezed one close to the other, that he didn't have space to step. Then he began to step on their backs, but no one of the sheep neither moved, nor woke up.
Then little John asked: - Why, grandmother, the sheep continued peacefully their sleep, since we know how much fearful they are? - Have a little of patience and you will find out, said the grandmother and she continued her narration:
- When this man approached the fire, the shepherd raised his head. He was a grumpy old man, weird and tough and he talked abruptly to everyone.
When he saw the stranger, who was approaching, he threw upon him his long stick, which was pointy at its edge. But the stick deviated from its course and fell down with a lot clatter to the earth, without harming the stranger.
The grandmother wanted to go on, but little Costas asked her again: - But why, grandmother, the stick didn't hit him? But the grandmother, without paying attention to the question of little Costas, she went on:
- Then the stranger approached the shepherd and said to him: - My good man, help me and give me some little fire. My wife has given birth and I must light a fire in order to warm up both her and the baby.
The shepherd wanted to deny to him. He remembered however, that the dogs were not able to bite him, the sheep were not afraid of him and they didn't scatter and that his stick did not hit him and he got scared. He didn't dare therefore to deny to the stranger. - Take all the fire you want! said the shepherd.
But the fire was consumed already and it didn't have any long wood or branch. It was just a large pile of burning charcoals. And the stranger did not have neither shovel, nor any metal container, nor anything else, in order to put them inside and take them to his house.
The shepherd, who felt that, said to him again: - Take as much fire as you want; and from inside he was glad, that he would not be able to take fire.
But the stranger bent over, he set aside with his hand the ashes from the coals, then he lifted the edge of his garment and he put them there. How strange however! The coals, were neither burning his hands, when he was holding them, nor his garment now. He was taking them to his home, as if they were not burning coals, but apples or nuts.
At this point for the third time the children asked the grandmother: - But, grandmother, why the coals didn't burn him? - Now you shall see why, wait! Said the grandmother and continued.
When the wicked shepherd saw all these things, he bewildered. - But what night is this, he thought, that the wild dogs do not bite, the sheep are not scared, the stick does not hurt and the coals do not burn?
He stopped the stranger and asked him: - What kind of night is this today and why everything has so much kindness towards you? - If you don't see it by yourself, I cannot explain it to you, replied the stranger, and went on his way, in order to arrive quickly to his house and to warm up his wife and the baby.
The shepherd decided to follow the stranger and find out what do they mean all these. He followed him therefore until the stranger arrived to his hut.
Then the shepherd saw, that this man didn't even have a hut and that his wife and the baby were lying down inside a cavern, that had nothing else than the four naked walls.
Then the shepherd thought, that the small and innocent infant would freeze inside the cavern and although his heart was tough, he felt sorry for it. Then he unhunged the bag, that he had hanged on his shoulder, he took out a very white soft fleece and he gave it to the stranger in order to set it under the little child.
At that moment, that this tough man felt compassion for the other people and made a charity, his eyes were opened. He saw the things, that before he could not see; and he heard this, that before he could not hear.
He saw that all around there were angels with silver wings and that in their hands they were holding guitars. And he heard them chanting, that during that night the Savior of the world had been born. And then the shepherd understood, why at that night nobody could do any harm to the stranger.
The shepherd also saw, that the angels were everywhere. They were sitting in the cave, they were descending the mountain, they were flying in the sky, they were walking many of them together on the streets, they were stopping in the entrance of the cave and they were looking at the infant.
The joy was spreading everywhere. The singing and a subtle chanting were heard everywhere. And when the shepherd saw and heard in that dark night, everything that before he could neither see nor hear, he felt great joy, for his eyes had opened and he knelt down and thanked God.
And then little John, since the grandmother had now stopped her narration, he said: - Now I finally understood, grandmother, why during that night the dogs would not bite, the sheep would not wake up of their fear, the stick would not hurt and the coals would not burn. Everything had the goodness of our little Christ, because the baby, that was born during that night, was Christ! Right, grandma?
Yes, my children, said the grandmother and she kissed her grandchildren. And you, now come to your little beds to sleep.
One day unkle John said to his two nieces, to Socrates and to George: - The day after tomorrow on the new year's day you will come to eat with me. I will have for you a new year's cake, that in order for it to be made a thousand people have worked.
The children remained with their mouth open. - One thousand people! What are you saying, uncle John, both of them said together. But then this cake must be bigger than our house! - I don't know, the uncle replied to them. The day after tomorrow you shall see it.
The children could not remain calm out of curiosity. All that day and the next one they didn't talk about anything else but only for this notorious cake that they were going to see. Their mind could not grasp it this thing.
Suddenly George said: - Could it be that uncle John is making fun of us? And Socrates, who was older, replied to him with anger: - Our uncle does not do such kind of jokes!
Finally the new year's day arrived and the children went to the house of their uncle, in order to wish him and in order to eat with him. But so much impatient they were to see the cake, that they almost didn't understand what they were eating. They had lost their voice and they were continuously starring towards the door. But would it come through the door? And would it fit to come in?
At last the new year's cake, was presented. It was a usual cake, like all cakes. - It won't be this one, said George slowly to his brother. - This is it, his uncle replied to him, because he had heard him.
Then George couldn't bear it and shouted: - But, good uncle, a thousand people have worked, in order to make this little cake? - Eat first, my child, your piece and then we shall talk, his uncle told him.
The children, after they ate their cake in a hurry, they got up and they went near him. - Take a pencil and paper, their uncle said to them and come to make the calculation.
They went inside the office, they took paper and with the pencil in hand they were looking him in the eyes and they waited.
- For this cake to be made, what is needed first of all? their uncle asked them. - Flour, Socrates shouted, who had been present in the preparation of the cake in their own house. - Brilliant, said the uncle. Do you know however how many people must work, in order to be made this flour?
First of all farmers are needed, in order to plow the earth, to sow and to reap. And for the ploughing a plow is needed. For the plow to be made, metallurgists have been worked, smiths, carpenters.
Then the horse, that pulls the plow, needs leather straps. In order to be made these leather straps, the tanners must work with the leather.
Let's say therefore, that we have the wheat. Now we must grind it, in order to become flour. And we need a mill for this job. And for the mill to be constructed, bricklayers are needed and stonemasons, in order to make the millstones.
The children were listening to him with an open mouth and they almost didn't get to write it all. - What else is needed, in order to make the cake? their uncle asked them. Socrates leaped up again and said: - Dried grapes, seasonings, sugar.
- But apart from the dried grapes, that our land has plenty of them, the other ingredients, the sugar and the seasonings, are coming to us from distant countries, the uncle said. For them to arrive here, ships are needed. And in order to be made the ships, how many do you think have worked? And again for the ship to travel, it needs to have a captain and sailors.
- Also, uncle, Socrates said, traders are needed, in order to receive these merchandises. - Quite right you have said it Socrates. These people are the wholesalers. The grocers afterwards are buying the products from them and they sell them to the people.
Can you see therefore how many indeed have worked, in order to come all these products till here? but the cake needs more things, in order to be made. Eggs, milk, butter...
- Stop, stop, uncle John, George shouted now. I am certain, that we have surpassed the thousand. - And yet I have not counted them all, the uncle told them.
And then the cake needs to be baked. There are needed therefore coal workers, in order to transport the coals and a baker, in order to bake it. And where are we going to put it, in order to be baked? in an oven pan. The oven pan who is going to make it? the gypsy. And who is going to tin it? The tinker.
- My paper does not fit others, uncle, Socrates shouted at him. - Eh, but more or less we have included them all already, said the uncle laughing. Go to your aunt now to give you one more piece from this famous new year's cake. Now that you know how many hands have helped in order to be made, now the cake will seem to you more tasty.
The children thanked the uncle with all their heart for all these things that he taught them and they went inside.
- And I was thinking that the uncle was mocking us! Said little George eating with great appetite the second piece. - But I wasn't thinking like this, Socrates replied to him seriously. I know very well, that the uncle is never mocking.
Inside the yard of a big house two little girls are playing. They are beautiful and well dressed. One of the girls is playing with a big ball. The other is holding by the hand a lame doll and is trying to make her walk.
- Why, Christine, are you playing with your old doll? Why don't you bring the one, that your mother has given you on this last new year's day? - I don't have it any more. I gave it away! - You gave it away? What a pity such a nice doll! But, that doll was like alive! But why did you gave it away?
- When I was asleep my guardian angel came and he sat next to me. He is the one who told me to give it away. - I don't understand what you are telling me. What angel?
- Listen to understand how it happened. I was sleeping and suddenly I heard a noise that sounded like fru-fru. His wings were making this noise. My mother had told me that. During the night of the new year's eve their guardian angel cames and he sits up sleepless next to the good children. And I was expecting him because all this time I had not done anything naughty.
- And how was he? Didn't you get scared of him? Was he too big? - He was like us little. His hair was shining like the sun. I showed him my doll, that was sleeping on my side. He leaned over my little bed, he looked at me and he said to me:
- I want you to do me a favor, Christine. I am asking you that, because you are a good girl and you have a good heart. Behind your back yard, inside an old little house, lives a little girl which is good like you are. But she is so poor! She doesn't have a mother. During that new year's day once more she only had dried bread to eat. Isn't it a pity? Give her this beautiful doll to smile at her.
I got scared. I took the doll and I squeezed it in my arms. - I will give her the other, the old one, I said to him. It is not so much broken. But the little angel didn't speak to me again. He moved his little wings, fru-fru and he disappeared... Then I started to cry.
- And your doll? What happened to the doll? - When I woke up, I remembered everything. What will be saying about me the little angel in heaven, I was thinking. I could not calm down.
Then, without saying anything to my mother, I took the new doll. I went down slowly the stairs. I opened the door of Maria and I entered. «Take my doll Maria, I told her, for her to smile to you».
- Wow! I can imagine how she must have reacted! - Yes! She was looking at it and she couldn't have enough. She told me: «How beautiful she is! So beautiful and you are giving her to me?»
- And you came back with empty hands? So much I feel sorry for you! - In the beginning I was sorry myself too. Then I was seized by a kind of joy, that I wanted to scream!
- And your little angel you didn't see it anymore? - No, but now I know, that he is pleased with me. And he will come back next year. He will sit next to my bed the whole night of the new year's eve. My mother told me so. And whatever he asks me then again, I will do it.
- Ah! when you see him again, ask him please to come to me too. Let him just come and he can ask me anything he wants for the poor children. Even that gilded book, that my aunt has given me.
- Don't worry, Helen. When he comes back, I shall say it to him. And you shall see, that he will also come to you. He is so good!
One day John was looking at his father, who was sowing in the field some little seeds with his handfuls. These little seeds were very shiny and John asked him: - ¿What are you doing there, father?
- Well, I am sowing flax. It will grow and the mother will make you shirts with it. John didn't speak no more. He was thinking, that he never saw shirts growing in the fields.
Two weeks later the field was covered with a kind of fine grass like silk. Then John thought: - How nice it would be, if I had one little shirt like that!
Three times they went the two sisters of John with their mother and they cleaned the field from the wild weeds and every time they were saying to John: - We are going to make you a nice little shirt! And again John didn't speak; he was asking himself, how could they grow nice shirts from the earth?
Several weeks passed. The grass was growing up and at its top it appeared a nice little flower in the color of the sea. - Such color are the eyes of our little Costas, John said in his mind. But I never saw anybody to wear a shirt with that color.
When the flowers fell, in their place appeared some green little heads. In a few days, after the little heads had turned to a dark color and dried up a little, the mother and the sisters of John uprooted all the flax, they tied it into small bundles and they spread it on the field to dry up.
After a few days had passed and the flax had dried up, they began to cut the little heads and then they took the bundles with the little heads cut off and they threw them into the river. They took care however to press them down under rocks, so that the current wouldn't drift them away.
While the sisters of John were doing these jobs, they said to him again: - Nice little shirt you are going to make, John.
But again John could not understand how his shirt would be made from these bundles that they were putting in the water to get wet. He was standing there speechless and with bewilderment he was looking at his sisters, who were immersing his little shirt into the water.
When two weeks had passed, they took the flax out of the river, they dried it up and they started beating it; first with a board on the threshing floor and then with a pitchfork in the yard. Then little John was seeing, that from the flax the bran was flying in the air like dust.
After they had beaten it quite well, they started to heckle the flax with an iron comb, until it became soft and silky. And then they said again the sisters of John: - It is going to be very nice you little shirt, little John.
Then John did not endure and said: - How is this going to become a shirt? This looks like the hair of our little Costas and not like a shirt. The sisters of John laughed and they didn't say anything anymore.
The long winter nights started. The grandmother of John passed a tuft from the flax in her distaff and she began to spin it. And John who was seeing his grandmother to spin, was thinking: - These are just threads; where is my little shirt, that they are telling me all this time?
The winter passed, the spring and the summer. The autumn came. The father brought a loom in the house and he set it up. The grandmother passed the warp in some big combs and the mother started to pass the shuttle swiftly between these threads. Then John realized, that the cloth is made by the threads.
When the cloth was ready, they spread it upon the snow in order to freeze and at spring time they spread it under the sun, upon the grass and they sprayed it with water. Then John saw, that the cloth from gray color became white like foam.
Winter came again. The mother cut the cloth for shirts from the fabric and the sisters of John sewed them. At Christmas time John and Costas put on their new shirts that were white like the snow.
Then John exhibiting his new shirt, shouted: - How much time has passed, for my little shirt to be made! If we had bought the cloth from the merchant, I would have never believed, that so much time is needed and so much work, for the flax to become cloth.
The wolf, who has big eyes, in order to see better, big ears, in order to hear better, long teeth, in order to eat better, is bad and everyone should be afraid of him.
The wolf toy however, that the children are playing, is not bad at all and he only knows how to eat many sweets. That wolf is called little Angelica and he has beautiful little brown eyes, a tiny little mouth and his hair are tied with a ribbon.
When the playing time starts, everyone is looking at Angelica and they say: - Who wants to be the wolf? - Me! Angelica immediately shouts.
Everyone knows, that little Angelica is a beautiful and cute little wolf and that he doesn't eat the sheep. For this reason whoever wants to play this game, that is very entertaining, he becomes little lamb.
Then they gather many little lambs, a real flock, because all the children want to play. Especially since also their older sister, Urania, shall play, how can they not play all of them?
She goes ahead and she safeguards all the little lambs from the wolf. The little lambs are standing one behind the other and each one of them is holding the lamb that is in front. Thus, after they are all placed, the game starts with the song of Urania:
Old wolf, old wolf, what idea has entered you! You smell little lamb, tender little lamb, in vain you wander and you waste your time. Old wolf, old wolf, what idea has entered you!
And they run, they run the children and with all the effort he makes the poor wolf, he cannot catch no little lamb at all. Urania, the older sister, who stands in front of them, she knows well how to protect them.
Hector, the little cute dog of little Angelica, he also wants to help his girl-owner and he runs with her. He neither however succeeds anything. And Urania starts again her song:
Old wolf, old wolf, what idea has entered you! You smell little lamb, tender little lamb, in vain you wander and you waste your time. Old wolf, old wolf, what idea has entered you!
And the little she-wolf runs to the right, runs to the left, she leaps to the right, she leaps to the left, and Hector is barking. The little lambs are shouting beee, beee and hold on to the dresses of the order ones.
The little she-wolf rushes onto them and the little lambs are trying to save themselves. Laughing and screaming is being heard all the time. Both the wolf and the lambs are laughing and everybody is having fun.
Four little bunnies were born inside a nest, paved with grass and they were happily growing in the arms of their mother.
They were tiny and chubby, all four of them similar in their beauty. The three however were white on their belly, with black patches on their back.
Only one of them was all white from the head to its nails. For this reason its mother boasted and she was proud.
There was no other rabbit so cute like this one. And the more it grew, the more beautiful it became.
Its little eyes were shining like two red rubies and its little teeth were sharp like the teeth of a saw. In its little mouth it had a little mustache with three hairs on each side.
Their rabbit mother loved all four of them with the same kind of love. She especially loved however her little white one, her first child. She toiled so much, to bring him up, how could she not love him in a special way! Besides his whiteness was making her proud and she had great dreams for him.
The little rabbits were going to be two months old and their mother was anxiously thinking, that together with the other little rabbits her little white one also would leave her.
From their nest, that was made on a elevated position, the little rabbits could see a small garden. A little further away they were looking at the ducks, that were bathing in the little water of the creek. To the right there was an apple tree, where the sparrows were incessantly coming and were babbling and they argued. On the left there was the door of a stable with cows.
At dawn, the unrest was starting and the noise. At noon time was a little more quiet. But when the sun was about to set, the sparrows began to sing, the ducks to splash around in the creek and the cows mooing. This noise and restlessness was lasting until nightfall.
The little rabbits they also wanted to do what the other animals were doing. They were watching with curiosity the birds that were flying and were going far away. They were watching the cows, that were going to graze on the meadow and they also wanted to run and to jump around over the green grass.
How big it seemed to them the world around them! And with how much awe they opened their eyes, when the mother rabbit told them, that there are also others bigger meadows, that they could not see.
She told them about the forests, about the cliffs and the gorges. She told them about the caverns and the little rabbits around her were listening with longing. When they would also be able to walk and explore all these great places?
More than anyone else the little white one was saying: - Ah, will they ever let me some day to see all these odd things?