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Folktales A-Z

The Lark and her Chicks

The Lark and her Chicks

    A Lark made her nest in a field of young wheat. As the days passed, the wheat stalks grew tall and the chicks, too, grew in strength.

    The Crow and the Pitcher

      In a spell of dry weather, when the Birds could find very little to drink, a thirsty Crow found a pitcher with a little water in it.

      The Goose that Laid Golden Eggs

      The Goose That Laid Golden Eggs

        There was once a countryman who possessed the most wonderful goose you can imagine, for every day when he visited the nest, the goose had laid a beautiful, glittering egg of pure gold.

        The Fox and the Grapes

        The Fox and the Grapes

          A Fox one day spied a beautiful bunch of ripe grapes hanging from a vine trained along the branches of a tree. The grapes seemed ready to burst with juice, and the Fox’s mouth watered as he gazed longingly at them.

          The Lion and the Mouse

            A Lion lay asleep in the forest, his great head resting on his paws. A timid little Mouse came upon him unexpectedly, and in her fright and haste to get away, ran across the Lion’s nose.

            The Ants and the Grasshopper

              One bright day in late autumn a family of Ants were bustling about in the warm sunshine, drying out the grain they had stored up during the summer, when a starving Grasshopper, his fiddle under his arm, came up and begged for a bite to eat.

              The Boy Who Cried Wolf

              The Boy Who Cried Wolf

                A Shepherd Boy tended his master’s Sheep near a dark forest not far from the village. Soon he found life in the pasture very dull. One day as he sat watching the Sheep and the quiet forest, and thinking what he would do should he see a Wolf, he thought of a plan to amuse himself.

                The Rooster and the Pearl

                The Rooster and the Pearl

                  Scratch. Scratch. Peck. Cock was strutting around the yard, busily looking for good things to eat. Peck, peck scratch. He gobbled down a piece of barley-corn with greedy satisfaction. Yum!

                  The Tortoise and the Hare

                  The Tortoise and the Hare

                    A Hare was making fun of the Tortoise one day for being so slow.

                    “Do you ever get anywhere?” he asked with a mocking laugh.

                    No Room: A Christmas Legend

                    No Room

                      Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, on the night before Christmas, a little child was wandering all alone through the streets of a great city. There were many people on the street, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts, and even gray-haired grandfathers and grandmothers, all of whom were hurrying home with bundles of presents for each other and for their little ones. Fine carriages rolled by, express wagons rattled past, even old carts were pressed into service, and all things seemed in a hurry and glad with expectation of the coming Christmas morning

                      The Street of the Jewel

                      The Street of the Jewel

                        What this street was called, in very old times, Señor, no one knows: because the dreadful thing that gave to it the name of the Street of the Jewel happened on a long ago Christmas Eve.

                        I'm All Right

                        I’m All Right

                          We knew right from the start that Johnny was going to be a soldier. Even as a child, all his concentration was on the military. So we weren’t surprised when he joined the Marines right out of high school…

                          Wait Until Emmet comes

                          Wait Until Emmett Comes

                            A preacher was riding to one of the churches on his circuit when darkness fell. It was about to storm, and the only house nearby was an old mansion which was reputed to be haunted. The preacher clutched his Bible and said: “The Lawd will take care o’ me”…

                            The Brothers' Revenge

                            The Brothers’ Revenge

                              The blizzard was raging fiercely around them as the brothers stumbled down the long road. they were miles from any farm, and knew they had to seek shelter or freeze to death. So it was with gratitude that the two brothers spotted a saloon and pushed their way through the door.

                              Thanksgiving Stories

                                In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition traces its origins to a 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The thanksgiving observance at Plymouth was prompted by a good harvest. Initially, the Plymouth colony did not have enough food to feed the colonists, but the Wampanoag Native Americans helped the settlers by providing seeds and teaching them to fish.

                                Christmas Stories

                                  December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870. Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For more than two thousand years, people have been observing Christmas Day with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, sharing meals with family and friends and waiting for Santa Claus to arrive.

                                  Holiday Ghost Stories

                                    Come celebrate the spooky side of the holidays.  Ghosts, Saint Nicholas, Der Belznickel and other characters haunt these stories that take place around the holidays.  We’ve also included a couple of ghost stories from the African-American tradition for folks to read during Kwanzaa!   Christmas Stories Haunted ChristmasThe soft thud of following footsteps echoed behind him as he hurried through the snowflakes toward home.  They kept pace with him, quickening when he quickened and slowing when… Read More »Holiday Ghost Stories

                                    Hanukkah Stories

                                      Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that starts on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, which coincides with late November-late December on the secular calendar. It is celebrated for eight days and nights. In Hebrew, the word “hanukkah” means “dedication.” The holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.

                                      Kwanzaa Stories

                                        Kwanzaa is a seven day festival which celebrates the African American culture and history. It is a time of community gathering and reflection. Kwanzaa begins on December 26th, the day after Christmas, and continues until New Years Day, January 1st.

                                        New Years Stories

                                        New Years Day stories

                                          New Year’s Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar. Since most countries use the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Day is a truly global public holiday, often celebrated with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the New Year starts.

                                          Saint Nicholas Day

                                            December 6 is the Feast of Saint Nicholas of Myra, a bishop from the fourth century. He is the model for our modern-day Santa Claus, because Saint Nicholas’s generosity was legendary. The night before Saint Nicholas Day, children place their shoes in a prominent location– by a fireplace, or outside their bedroom door. The next morning–usually very early–the children find their shoes filled with little presents from the great saint.

                                            The Devil's Christmas Gift

                                            The Devil’s Christmas Gift

                                              Away down South, an old custom dictates that if someone comes up to you on Christmas Day and says “Christmas gift” before y’all do, why y’all are obliged to give that person a present. Mind you, the custom does not say what sort of present y’all should give! But those of us who hail from the South consider ourselves to be gentlefolk. The gifts given and received in this manner are good enough to keep the custom alive and well…

                                              Davy Crockett and the Frozen Dawn

                                                One winter, it was so cold that the dawn froze solid. The sun got caught between two ice blocks, and the earth iced up so much that it couldn’t turn. The first rays of sunlight froze halfway over the mountain tops. They looked like yellow icicles dripping towards the ground.

                                                Cow's Head

                                                Cow’s Head

                                                  Oksana lived in a small house on the edge of town with her father, her stepmother and her stepsister. Oksana’s stepmother disliked Oksana, favoring her true daughter, Olena.
                                                  Soon after her father’s remarriage, Oksana found that all the housework fell to her while Olena idled her days away

                                                  Rising of Gouverneur Morris

                                                  The Rising of Gouverneur Morris

                                                    Gouverneur Morris, American minister to the court of Louis XVI, was considerably enriched, at the close of the reign of terror, by plate, jewels, furniture, paintings, coaches, and so on, left in his charge by members of the French nobility, that they might not be confiscated in the sack of the city.

                                                    Wendigo

                                                    Wendigo

                                                      The storm lasted so long that they thought they would starve. Finally, when the wind and swirling snow had died away to just a memory, the father, who was a brave warrior, ventured outside. The next storm was already on the horizon, but if food was not found soon, the family would starve.

                                                      Der Belznickel

                                                      Der Belznickel

                                                        My sisters and my baby brother danced about the house, whispering to each other excitedly about the coming of der Belznickel on that snowy December 5th evening, the day before the Feast of Saint Nicholas. According to the stories, the good Saint Nicholas chains up the Devil on the eve of his Birthday – December 6th — and makes him visit all of the children in the village to see if they have been behaving themselves and deserved the attention of Kirstkindel.

                                                        Haunted Christmas

                                                        Haunted Christmas

                                                          The soft thud of following footsteps echoed behind him as he hurried through the snowflakes toward home. They kept pace with him, quickening when he quickened and slowing when he slowed. It was creepy. His flesh crawled at the sound and he sped up, cursing himself for walking home alone from the midnight Christmas Mass.

                                                          A Baker's Dozen

                                                          A Baker’s Dozen

                                                            Back in the old days, I had a successful bake-shop in Albany. I had a good business, a plump wife, and a big family. I was a happy man. But trouble came to my shop one year in the guise of an ugly old woman. She entered my shop a few minutes before closing and said: “I wish to have a dozen cookies.” She pointed to my special Saint Nicholas cookies that were sitting out on a tray. So I counted out twelve cookies for her…