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Stories, Folktales, Folklore, Fairy Tales, Legends,
Myths, History, Nursery Rhymes, Fantasy & Facts

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Books about Winter and Winter Solstice
...~ Baby-Preschool through Ages 4-8
...~ Ages 9-12
...~ Young Adult
...~ Reference
Audio / CD Resources for all ages
Jewelry for all ages - Winter theme
Online Links - Winter and Winter Solstice
SOS - Searching Out Stories/Info - Winter Solstice
Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians

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about the Winter Solstice,
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All Products About the Winter Solstice

Books; Kindle Books; Music; MP3 Downloads; Home, Garden & Pets; Movies & TV;
Automotive; Clothing & Accessories; Health & Personal Care & More.


Book titles are in blue and underlined. Click on them to find out more about the books and how to buy them.
To retell these stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Alphabetized for your convenience with short descriptions to save you research time.

Baby-Preschool and Ages 4-8

Animals in Winter (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Henrietta Bancroft with Helen K. David (illus). (1996 - Ages 4-8)
Have you ever seen a butterfly in the snow? Probably not. Butterflies can't survive cold weather, so wmany of them fly to warmer places in winter. Woodchucks don't like cold weather either but they hibernate. Read how different animals cope with winter's worst weather.

Christmas Wreath (The): Holiday Book by James Hoffman with Jack Stockman (illus). (1993 - Ages 4-8)
Review by a kid: This story is about a polar bear that got a Christmas wreath stuck on his head and called it a necklace. The wreath caught seaweed and other plants and froze underwater. Then the bear hung it back up on a door. Then it shined beautifully in the cold night. I thought this book was a great Cristmas book. The pictures were nice and colorful. Nothing bad happened to the bear.

Curious George in the Snow by H.A. Rey with Margaret Rey (illus). (1998 - Ages 4-8)
George and the man with the yellow hat enjoy watching the winter sports competition. When they stop to warm up with some cocoa, George's curiosity about the racing equipment leads to some wild rides up and down the slopes, where he might even create a new sport!

Frosty the Snowman by Jack Rollins. (2003 - Ages 4-8)
Everybody's favorite snowman comes magically to life in the pages of this picture book. Featuring the festive spirit and rollicking lyrics of the original song, it's the perfect read-aloud for this holiday season.

Lucia Morning in Sweden by Ewa Rydoker with Carina Stahlberg (illus). (Ages 4-8)
This new children's book tells the old story of Santa Lucia through the eyes of three children in modern-day Sweden. One of the most beloved and celebrated traditions of the Swedish people, Lucia Day also signifies that the Christmas holiday is getting close.

Max & Ruby's Winter Adventure (Max and Ruby) by Rosemary Wells. (2007 - Ages 4-8)
Max and Ruby have the most perfect winter day planned! First they’ll build a beautiful snow queen in front of their house and then they’ll sled down a steep hill. The next stop is to skate around on the frozen pond. And the last stop? Home, sweet home!

Mitten (The): A Ukrainian Folktale by Jan Brett (1990 - Ages 4-8)
A Ukrainian boy named Nicki wants his grandmother to knit snow-white mittens for him. She warns him that a lost white mitten will be hard to find in the snow, but of course he loses one right away. After that, different animals crawl inside the lost mitten and try to live all crowded together.

Poppleton In Winter (Scholastic Reader Level 3) by Cynthia Rylant. (2008 - Ages 4-8)
Poppleton the Pig deals with fallen icicles, makes a bust of his llama friend's head, and enjoys a very happy surprise birthday party. The series features simple language, funny, easy-to-follow vignettes, and appealing watercolor illustrations of Poppleton and his motley crew of friends.

Snow Child (The) (Easy-to-Read, Puffin) by Harriet Ziefert with Julia Zanes (illus). (2000 - Ages 4-8)
There once lived an old man and an old woman who wanted a child, so they made a little girl out of snow. When the old woman kissed her, she came to life! When the warm weather came, and the snow child had to go, but when the snow returned, it brought with it a wonderful surprise.0


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Snow Child (The) by Freya Littledale with Barbara Lavalee (illus). (1989 - Ages 4-8)
An elderly couple's wish comes true when their little girl of snow magically comes to life. Each spring the snow child must leave, but every winter she returns with the first snowfall and comes to life with a kiss.

The Snow Queen
by Amy Erlich with Susan Jeffers (illus)

The Snow Queen by H.C. Andersen
with Vladyslav Yerko (illus)

The Snow Queen by H.C. Andersen
with Pavel Tatarnikov (illus)

Snow Queen (The) - by Amy Erlich and Susan Jeffers (illus). (2006 - Ages 4-8)
When the coldhearted Snow Queen abducts a young boy, Gerda begins a magical and perilous journey to find him and release him from the Snow Queen’s treacherous spell.

Snow Queen (The) by Hans Christian Andersen and Vladyslav Yerko (illus). (2006)
Best Children's Book of the Year 2006. Collector's quality gift for kids. Printed in Europe. Size: 9X12". Full color jacket, full color hard cover, laminated, sewn.

Snow Queen (The) by Hans Christian Andersen and Pavel Tatarnikov (illus).
A magic mirror breaks, and its tiny pieces fly all over the world. One piece lodges in the eye of a little boy named Kay, transforming his vision. Another pierces his heart, turning it cold as ice. Kay then disappears and his playmate Gerda undertakes a frightening journey to find him.

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner. (2002 - Baby-Preschool)
This witty, imaginative book in verse offers many amusing details about the secret life of snowmen and where they go at night, and the illustrations show roly-poly snowmen bursting with personality and charm.

Way to Start a Day (The) by Byrd Baylor. (1986 - Ages 4-8) (a Caldecott Honor book)
There is a story in one of George MacDonald's collections of a princess who waxes and wanes with the moon and is only awake at night, until a prince breaks the spell and she can watch the dawn again. There is also the Northwest Native American story of how Raven stole the sun and released it into the world.

Winter Days in the Big Woods (My First Little House Books) by Laura Ingalls Wilder with Garth Williams (illus). (Reprint 1995 - Ages 4-8)
Laura helps Ma and Pa make the little log cabin snug and cozy for the snowy days ahead.

Winter's Gift by Jane Monroe Donovan. (2004 - Ages 4-8)
On a small, forlorn farm, the holiday season is best forgotten, along with painful memories of loved ones lost. A chance snowstorm brings together two unlikely hearts, one human and one beast, yet both yearning for comfort, companionship, and that most elusive gift of all, hope.

Winter's Tale: An Original Pop-up Journey by Robert Sabuda (illus). (2005 - Ages 4-8)
The paper constructions showthe artist's usual high standard: an owl soars off the pages; a cave lifts and opens to show the foxes concealed within; and a waterfall cascades into a rushing river, where a bear darts forward to catch the fish that dance above the water's surface. The final 3-D scene shows all of the creatures posed within a forest of evergreens and bare trees, while a snowman standing by.

Ages 9-12

Brian's Winter by Gary Paulsen. (1998 - Ages 9-12)
At the conclusion of Hatchet (Macmillan, 1987), Brian Robeson is rescued after surviving a plane crash and summer alone in the north Canadian woods. This sequel shows what would have happened if the 13-year-old boy had been forced to endure the harsh winter. At first, Brian lives in relative luxury, but then his freeze-dried food runs out and his rifle fails, and he realizes how careless and complacent he has become.

Old Peter's Russian Tales by Arthur Ransome. (reprint 2007 by Aegypan)
This is a collection of twenty-one Russian folktales drawn from Ransome's time in Russia. The tales include "Baba Yaga," the story of the famous witch who lived in a house that walked on chicken feet.

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner with Greg Hargreaves (illus). (1992 - Ages 9-12) (available as book/CD)
Two delightful short books have been paired up in this audio set. Stone Fox tells the story of a boy determined to win a dog sled race to save his grandfather's farm. Top Secret also features a determined boy and his grandfather, but in a much different setting and story. Narrated by Tony Award winner B.D. Wong.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. (2001 - Ages 9-12)
This well-known poem takes on new life in its first picture-book adaptation. The poem has been long appreciated for its strong rhythm and evocative images. The silent beauty of a snowy night shines through Jeffers's artwork. This quiet yet powerful book has a magic all its own.

Winter of the Ice Wizard (Magic Tree House 32) by Mary Pope Osborne with Sal Murdocca (illus). (2004 - Ages 9-12)
Jack and Annie, joined by Teddy and Kathleen (from earlier books), travel in the Magic Tree House to a land of snow where the Ice Wizard has captured Morgan and Merlin. The four friends must find the Ice Wizard’s missing eye . . . or is it really his heart that is missing?

Woodsong by Gary Paulsen. (2007 - Ages 9-12)
An autobiographical book that gives through spare but vivid language a look at a man who thought, because he was a hunter and a trapper, that he knew about the outdoors. Instead, he discovered he knew very little until he opened himself to the realities of predators and prey, and to the lessons taught to him by the animals he encountered and the sled dogs he trained and raced.

Young Adult

Miki Falls: Winter (Miki Falls) by Mark Crilley (illus). (2008 - Young Adult)
Can love survive? It's winter, and a bitter chill of desperation has settled over Miki and Hiro. Far from home, the young couple treks through the frozen north, with Akuzu's powerful agents hot on their trail. Miki knows they are determined to tear her and Hiro apart. But she has different plans. With the help of an unlikely ally, Miki and Hiro endure a daring journey just to be together.

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett. (2006 - Young Adult) (available as book/CD)
"An extraordinary achievement'-Books for Keeps. 'A characteristically entertaining mix'-Sunday Times. 'One of the best and one of the funniest English authors alive'- Independent. 'Oodles of dry wit, imagination and shrewdly observed characters' - Independent on Sunday. 'Exhuberant energy and humour.'-Children's Bookseller.


Solstice Evergreen: History, Folklore and Origins of the Christmas Tree (The) by Sheryl Ann Karas. (1998)
Why do over 40 million Americans decorate Christmas Trees? Few of us know the origins and spiritual significance of the annual ritual they perform. With depth and detail this revised and expanded second edition of reveals even more hidden meanings of evergreentrees throughout human history - for over 5000 years! Karas has gathered nearly 40 myths legends and folktales from diverse cultures around the globe.

Storytellers Sourcebook: A Subject, Title, and Motif Index to Folklore Collections for Children, 1983-1999 by Margaret Read MacDonald. (2001)
This reference is hard to get into, but well worth it. Even though it is 15+ years old, it has much value still for libraries and media centers with large collections of 398's. The subject index allows you to find many stories about almost any subject you or your students can think of. It also helps to find that partially forgotten story you heard once upon a time.

Troubadour's Story Bag: Musical Folktales of the World by Norma Livo. (The Bird Singing in the Middle of the Woods) (1996)
Nearly 40 stories have been collected from around the world and retold to celebrate the universal language of music. Well-known favorites, such as The Pied Piper and The Magic Flute, are joined by lesser-known tales, such as How the Fiddle Came to the Gypsies and The Singing Bone. Stories are drawn from Japan, China, Africa, Central and South America, and many European countries.

The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas by John Matthews. (2003)
This beautifully illustrated book presents the history of modern Christmas rituals. Trying to combat the commercialization of Christmas, Matthews explains how the solstice is celebrated around the world and how the dates of Christmas are different in different cultures. He discusses the traditions of Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, and others.

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For a complete, searchable list of books about the Winter Solstice,
click here:
Books About the Winter Solstice - All ages (over 370 choices)
Ages 4-8 (6 choices)
Ages 9-12
(3 choices)


Audio products are listed in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Alphabetized for your convenience with short descriptions to save you research time.

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner with Greg Hargreaves (illus). (1992 - Ages 9-12) (also available as CD)
Two short books have been paired up in this audio set. "Stone Fox" tells the story of a boy determined to win a dog sled race to save his grandfather's farm. "Top Secret" features a determined boy and his grandfather, but in a much different setting and story. Allen Brewster has a fantastic idea that might even win the silver trophy at the science fair human photosynthesis. He has several obstacles to overcome.

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett. (2006 - Young Adult)
The God of Winter has fallen in love with 13-year-old apprentice witch Tiffany Aching. She enlists the support of the Wee Free Men—her toughest, craziest, and smallest friends—to bend the rules of the rites of spring and protect her world from being eternally frozen. An energetic mix of boisterous fantasy, wonderful humor, and uncommon common sense.

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SELECTED JEWELRY with a WINTER THEME - Children and Adults

Jewelry products are listed in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Alphabetized for your convenience with short descriptions to save you research time.

Earrings and Pendant — Rhodium Plated 8 Point 9 CZ French Wire Snowflake with 18" Box Chain
Brand Name: West Coast Jewelry
Metal stamp: 925-Sterling
Metal: sterling-silver
Material Type: sterling-silver, cubic-zirconia

Pendant — Genuine Snowflake Swarovski Elements Pendant on Sterling Silver Bead Chain - 18"
Create your own winter wonderland with this sparkling Swarovski crystal snowflake pendant. The icy clear crystal is expertly faceted to catch and reflect light for a beautiful sparkle. The pendant is showcased on an 18-inch sterling silver shot bead chain.

Pendant — Sterling Silver Marcasite & Cubic Zirconia Snowflake, 18"
This gorgeous vintage-style snowflake pendant is made from sterling silver and adorned with contrasting dark marcasite and clear cubic zirconia stones. The stones radiate outward in an alternating pattern to form an ornate crystal shape. The pendant swings below a matching decorative bale and presents on a substantial and brightly polished Singapore twist chain that measure 18 inches long.

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For a complete, searchable list of jewelry with a Winter theme,
(over 1,440 choices)
click here:
Winter Jewelry



Online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more stories and information.
Story titles are in quotation marks.
To retell any stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Short descriptions included to save you research time.
Eskimo Folktales.
"Father Frost" from the Gutenberg Collection.
Holiday Stories & Winter Tales. Winter tales come from all over the United States and Canada.
"The Long Winter" (Canadian First Nation - the Slavey tribe of NW Canada).
"Preparing for Winter" - an Aesop's fable.
"Saving Spring" from Encyclopedia Mythica.
Weather Folktales.
"Why the Evergreen Trees Keep Their Leaves in Winter" from Rick Walton's library.
"Winter" from Sacred Texts.
Winter and Children's Literature from Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site.

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Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians

(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)

Book titles and online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more stories and information.
Story titles are in quotation marks.
To retell any stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Posts are added chronologically as they are received by Story Lovers World.

1) Again, not exactly a solstice story, but certainly a cold of winter story, and with a good connection to other midwinter stories is "The Snow Maiden." The connection is that it is a story of an incarnation, love made flesh. An old couple long for a daughter. One day they make a snowgirl and wish for it to come to life. It does, promising that, though ice flows through her veins, she will be their child as long as they love her. Once, playing hide and seek with the other children, she gets lost in the woods. A fox takes her home, and the old couple offer to reward him. He asks for a hen. The old couple go into their yard and there decide that they do not need to give a reward to a fox. They wrap their dog in a bag, and when he opens it, the dog chases him away. Then the daughter, since they value her return so little--love her less than a hen, melts and disappears. There is an excellent version of this story with lots of sparkling midwinter imagery in Old Peter's Russian Tales.

2) There are a lot of good midwinter stories. The Russian stories about their Jack Frost are good, if depressing. Also, there is a Japanese winter figure, sort of a snow wife. Both of these cycles center on the idea that winter is a hard, even cruel time of the year, but a natural one.

One problem is a misconception of what Winter Solstice stories are. They are stories of hope for the rebirth of the sun/son. Any story that gives hope for something to come, whether it is the lengthening of the days, the birth of a prophet/teacher, or hope for prosperity of wealth, happiness, or health, would be totally appropriate as a Solstice tale. Very few stories are actually labeled as such. You will have to read them to find the metaphors. Look to Celtic Mythology for some of these. Perhaps the story of the birth of Lugh, for instance.

4) "The Sun Rolls North & South" (Traditional Coos Story) by Thomas Doty.

"Latgawa: Journey into the Interior" (Original Doty & Coyote story) by Thomas Doty.
Thomas D. 12/6/06

Perhaps Lucia Morning in Sweden - Santa Lucia as it is celebrated in Sweden. You can find this in most any book on Swedish customs as it is major celebration--there is a small book which has both the customs and story in English I think it is Santa Lucia--The festival of Lights.

6) A beautiful and very complete book on this subject is The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas by John Matthews, which informs about the goddess/earth-centered cultures' worship of Nature and the cycles of the seasons which are, of course, what solstice lore is all about. The book then discusses how Christianity absorbed these traditions (see my post somewhere on this list, I think). There's poetry, legends and plays from all over the world. You don't say what kind of worship service is involved, but I'm not sure that all Christian churches would want to hear some of this material. Winter Solstice celebrations are about rebirth and renewal in the light of the promise of the new sun. There are lots of stories about the theft of the sun that fit solstice observations. I think right away of the Japanese story of the sun goddess Amaterasu who hides in a cave while her brother, the storm-god, ravages the land. See Native American, particularly Inuit, stories as well.

7) I have a Laura Simms story from the book called Joining In: An Anthology of Audience Participation Stories and How to Tell Them. Compiled by Teresa Miller and edited by Norma Livo. The name of the story is Sunman. It is based on an African Bushman myth and is fun to tell. I think this would fit in with the theme of solstice.At least I would use it that way. The story starts out :"In the earliest times there was no day & there was no night" It then goes onto say that a boy was born with "a great ball of light under his armpits." He was called the Sunman for when he raised his arms it became day & when he lowered his arms it became night. "Time passed" he became to old to hold up his arms all day so he crawled into a cave..children went in, brought him out & threw him into the sky where he became the sun. That's the basic plot. It's fun because the kids get to act out the parts of the Sunman, and the children who go in to throw him up into the sky. There is also a chant with arm movements that the audience does to make the Sunman raise his arms.

8) I would really love to tell this Cherokee myth. It's a beautiful one for this time of year, and when I'm driving down the highway and I see the poor trees with no leaves and I see a few evergreens, I think of this story and I hope other people will as well. When the plants and the trees were first created, they were given a task: to stay awake for 7 days and 7 nights. Now the first day and night, all of the plants and trees stayed wide awake and the second night as well. But by the third night, and the dawning of the fourth day, many of the small plants and some of the trees were falling fast, fast asleep. Who would be able to stay awake for 7 days and 7 nights? But on the seventh night, and the dawning of the eighth day, there stood the cedar, the pine, the spruce, and fir, the hemlock, the holly, and the laurel. "You have endured," a voice said, "and you shall be given a gift. All of the other plants and trees will lose their leaves and sleep the winter long, but you shall never lose your leaves. You will provide a shelter to the birds during the harshest winds, and you will remind the people that even during the darkest times something remains. You shall be evergreen."

9) "Little Daughter of the Snow," a Russian Folktale in Arthur Ransome's Old Peter's Russian Tales. A couple long for a child, and one day they build a snow child who comes to life. They care for her and make her clothes and boots and watch her play with the other children. One day when the children are playing hide-and-seek, she gets lost and a fox helps her find her way home. Her parents offer the fox a reward, and though he declines at first, he ultimately agrees that a hen would be nice. On the way to get the hen, the couple think that, now that they have their daughter back, what are they doing giving a hen away to a fox!!? Instead, they put their big dog in a bag and hand it to the fox. When he opens it, the dog chases him away and kills the fox. The couple come back, chuckling at having outsmarted the fox only to find their daughter melting by the fire. There are some wonderful "poems" in the Ransome version which I sing to a wistful tune (I made it up; you can, too!) To me, besides being a good tale, it is a story of incarnation. It is the couple's love that gives life to the child, and when their love proves to be selfish and un-whole, the life perishes.

How about the "Strawberries of the Little Men," an English tale from Margaret Read MacDonald's Look Back and See: Twenty Lively Tales for Gentle Tellers. It has strawberries fruiting in the midwinter snow. Also from Margaret Read MacDonald - The Silver Pine Cones, an adaptation of a German folktale, set just before Christmas. It features a sick father - a hungry and cold family and a mother who goes into the forest to try to find pinecones to make a fire. She takes those belonging to the king of the dwarves, he is angry , but takes pity on her when he hears her story. he gives her pine cones which turn into silver. This story is from Celebrate the World: Twenty Tellable Folktales for Multicultural Festivals.

A story about surviving the cold season, "Shingebiss and the North Wind," might be useful. It's posted on the Healing Stories Alliance website: (complete with a short soundfile of the chant!!)

"Shingebiss and the North Wind" full text may be found here:

"The Queen with the Cold Cold Heart" from Crazy Gibberish: And Other Story Hour Stretches is A WINNER. I love telling it and so does the audience. Wizard puts spell on Queen and her family, snow all year.

13) The Snow Child by Freya Littledale and Barbara Lavallee - a Russian story Isn't there a paper cutting or tearing story that lets you end up with a snowflake?

14) Mitten (The) - Russian folktale - this version by Jan Brett.
A Ukrainian boy named Nicki wants his grandmother Baba to knit snow-white mittens for him. She warns her grandson that a white mitten will be hard to find if he loses it in the snow, but of course he promptly does just that! What happens next is the surprising part, as a mole takes refuge in the lost mitten, then a rabbit, then a hedgehog, an owl, a badger, and a fox. If you think the mitten might be a wee bit stretched out at this point, just wait: "Then a big bear sniffed at the mitten. The animals were packed in tight, but the bear didn't care. He crawled in anyway." When a tiny mouse squeezes in, her whiskers tickle the bear's nose. He sneezes, and "Aaaaa-aaaaa-ca-chew!" all the animals fly out of their crocheted cave. As the mitten sails through the air, Nicki spots it, reclaims it, and takes it home to show his smiling Baba.

The Mitten - this version by Alvin Tresselt and Yaroslova (illus).
Deep in the woods on the coldest day of winter a little boy drops his mitten. And that lost mitten stretches and stretches -- and stretches -- to provide shelter for many woodland creatures. A Ukrainian folk tale.

"Jack and the Northwest Wind" from the Jack Tales could become a winter story.

16) I know a snowman song but sending tunes are hard. But it could be used as a stretcher.
Once there was a snowman, snowman, snowman.
Once there was a snowman, tall, tall, tall.
In the sun he melted, melted, melted.
In the sun he melted.

Crouch down, put hands over head in a circle shape. Stand up and up til you are on tippy toes with the tall, tall part. Slowly sink down till you are a puddle on the floor.

"The Long Winter" - Canadian Folktale
Before humans walked the earth, when the world was the land of the animals, a very long winter set in. The sun did not come out for three years. It snowed all the time. The animals were suffering very much from this long winter. The lack of food bad enough, but the lack of heat made it unbearable. They were greatly frightened. The animals called for a grand council to be held. Animals of all shapes and sizes were invited. When everyone gathered, the animals looked around and realized that one creature from the animal world was missing: Bear. It was then that they realized that no one had seen any bears for three years. All the animals agreed that the most important thing to do was to find out what had happened to the heat. Without heat their sufferings would never end. They decided that heat must be found and it must be brought back again. It was decided that several quick and brave animals would go on a search mission to the upper world. That's where they believed the heat had been taken. The animals chosen for the mission were Lynx, Fox, Wolf, Wolverine, Mouse, Pike (a freshwater fish), and Dogfish (a kind of small shark). After traveling far and wide through the air, the group finally found the hidden doorway that opened to the upper world. Excited, they all climbed upward to the world above. After exploring the upper world for some time, they saw a lake. By the lake burned a campfire with a tipi beside it. By the tipi were two young bears. They asked the cubs where their mother was, and were told she was off hunting. Inside the tipi, a number of big, round bags were hanging up. The animal visitors pointed to the first bag and asked the cubs, "What is in this bag?"
"That," they said, "is where our mother keeps the rain."
"And what is in this one?" the animals said, pointing to the second bag.
"That," the cubs answered, "is the wind."
"And this one?"
"That is where mother keeps the fog."
"And what may be in this next bag?" said the animals.
"Oh, we cannot let you know that," said the cubs, "for our mother told us it was a great secret, and if we tell, she will be very angry and will bop us on our heads when she returns."
"Don't be afraid," said the fox. "You can tell us. She will never know."
Then the cubs whispered, "That is the bag where she keeps the heat."
"Aahh ..." said the visitors. They glanced at one another, and said their good-byes quickly. Once outside the tipi, they rushed to a hidden spot and held a quick council. They agreed that they should leave the bears' campsite at once, as the mother bear might return at any time. After doing this they found a safer spot to hide. The task next placed before them was more difficult. How were they to capture the bag with the heat?
"We need to distract the old mother bear somehow," said Fox.
"I know!" said Lynx. "I'll change myself into a deer on the other side of the lake."
"Good idea!" said Wolverine. "The mother bear will see you across the lake and she'll want to hunt you. She'll have to paddle her canoe across the lake, and that will give us time to get the bag with the heat."
"Better yet," squeaked Mouse, "I'll chew a deep cut in the bear's paddle near the blade, so it will take her even longer to canoe across."
"Yes!" cried the others.
So Lynx went around to the other side of the lake and turned into a deer. Now as a Deer, he wandered near the edge of the lake to attract Bear's attention. In the meantime, Mouse scrambled into Bear's canoe and chewed a deep cut in the handle of her paddle close to the blade. The others hid near Bear's tipi. When one of the bear cubs saw the supposed deer across the lake he cried out, "Look at the deer on the opposite shore!" The old mother Bear immediately jumped into her canoe and paddled toward it. Deer walked slowly along the beach pretending not to see the canoe, so as to tempt Bear to paddle up close to him. Then all at once Deer doubled about and ran the opposite way. Old Bear threw her whole weight on the paddle to make it go faster, and the paddle broke suddenly where Mouse had gnawed it. The force of Bear's weight threw her into the water. The other animals were watching the hunt from the other side, and as soon as they saw the mother Bear floundering in the water, they ran into the tipi and pulled down the bag containing the heat. One at a time, they tugged the bag through the air toward the opening to the lower world from where they had come. They hurried to get back to the opening as fast as they could, but the bag was very large, and none of them was able to keep up the pace for long. Whenever one tired out, another would take the bag, and in this way they hastened along as quickly as they could, for they knew that the old mother Bear would soon get ashore and return to her tipi, and that when she did she would discover the missing bag. Then she'd be furious and follow their footprints to catch them! Sure enough, the old mother Bear was soon in hot pursuit, and had almost overtaken the animals when they spied just up ahead the opening to the world below. By this time the stronger animals were all so tired, they could hardly move at all. Now Dogfish (the small shark) took the bag and pulled it along a good way, and finally Pike (the freshwater fish) managed to inch it along some more. At that very moment, Bear lurched toward them. All the animals together pushed the bag until it tipped through the hole to the lower world and they each jumped in after it to safety, just in time. As soon as the bag dropped to the world below, it broke and all the heat crammed inside the bag rushed out. Warmth spread at once to all parts of the world and quickly thawed the ice and snow. Flood waters ran high for many weeks, but then the waters subsided. The trees, bushes, and flowers which had been covered by ice grew green leaves once more, and springtime bloomed. From that time till now, the world has always seen a warm season returning after a cold one, just as we see it today.
Source: The Long Winter is based on a story in an article called Legends of the Slavey Indians of the MacKenzie River from the Journal of American Folklore, Volume 14, 1901, pp.26-28.

18) Seal Oil Lamp (The) by Dale De Armond is one I like. Inuit. Much wished for child born blind. Hard winter, the boy is blocked up in the house to die, much to parents' grief. The mouse whose child he protected brings him seeds and tells him stories. In the spring, sorrowing family return; and to their surprise and delight he is still alive. The mouse has taught him to honor the game, and the songs the mouse has taught him allow him to call the animals and become a powerful hunter....

Poor Allugua! Because he is blind and will not grow up to be self-sufficient, Eskimo law decrees that he cannot be allowed to live. So when it comes time for the village people to go to their annual fishing camp, Allugua's parents must leave the boy behind, sealed in their dugout house, to die of cold and hunger. All alone with his songs, his games, and his own thoughts, Allugua bravely prepares to die. But the kindly little mouse people that creep into his house have other plans for him--and events take a magical turn. But the heart of the story is the time the boy spends alone in the dark house, learning from Mouse's really a lovely story, in book of same title.

19) "The Tree That Survived the Winter" by Mary Fahy.
The tree awakened earlier than usual one morning and stretched her arms toward the horizon as if to invite the early rays of dawn into her world. She shivered with delight, wiggling her roots in the muddy earth, which had only recently yielded its frozen hardness.

She sensed something was different. Her roots seemed to be extending further and more firmly into the soil. Her arms seemed to embrace more of the world, not with the timid gestures of a sapling afraid of tangling with the wind, but with the freedom of knowing that the wind could not topple her.

"I have survived the winter!" she marveled aloud.

"How wonderful," whispered the dawn, who had a facility for appreciating new miracles no matter how often they occurred. She swirled around the tree in a ritual of blessing, enveloping her gently, making her feel very special.

"How very different this feels," mused the tree, for a few short weeks ago the melting earth beneath her roots had sent shivers of panic through every single branch, She had cried out in alarm then, sensing that she might sink into the earth] and lose herself. often during the cold winter...., while she had trembled with anxiety she had felt an inner voice -- a small but steady voice -- which remained fluid and alive when everything else in her seemed paralyzed.

But now -- now! -- she was filled with the realization that her inner life was in harmony with the world outside. She relaxed the tight fibers of her being which she had unwittingly held rigid during the cold gray months.

"I have survived the winter!" she exulted.

"You have survived the winter!" the birds echoed, hopping eagerly from branch to branch, bouncing on the tender extensions of herself that the tree had not even noticed.


This one word, spoken softly and reverently, was all the tree could manage as she examined the white buds beginning to show through the tips of her branches, once held hard-clenched against the winter winds.

"I have survived the winter," the tree sighed, "and I have grown!"

Days passed, and the energy within her fairly exploded, spilling out into dusters of lovely blossoms. She watched each day as they grew larger and more beautiful.

Spring rains showered her with congratulations and encouragement. "You have survived the winter and you are growing, growing, growing..."

"Growing! Yes, I am growing," the tree acknowledged. "I have survived the winter and I am growing." She shivered with delight as she admired her new appearance, letting a few raindrops fall on the violets that enjoyed the shelter of her trunk. "It is good to be alive," she told them.

"Indeed," said the sun, appearing suddenly from behind a rain cloud, "you have survived the winter because you are very much loved!"

The tree could feel the warmth of the smiling sun penetrate deep into her branches, even through the bark of her trunk. But then she stopped. For the memory of the hard winter sent through her a stab of anger and pain that she thought the spring had healed.

"Where were you when I needed you?" she cried to the sun. I needed you! I needed you so badly and you weren't there," she sobbed. "You've been gone so long, and I've been so cold and lonely and scared. The days were so gray when you weren't there, and even when I could see you in the distance I couldn't feel your warmth or seem to reach you with my voice. Didn't you see me shivering? I became so brittle I was afraid of breaking, and my roots became paralyzed in the earth.

She could no longer go on except to cry out: "...and I missed you-- terribly!"

The sun's glow only intensified and the message was repeated. "You have survived the winter because you are very much loved."

The sun continued. "The chills and ice and bitter cold have toughened your timber to just the right degree, for you needed to be strong to carry the fruit that will appear on your branches. If I had stayed close all winter, you would not have grown this strong. But now -- just look at you!

A blush of pink coursed through her petals. The tree stood speechless.

You have survived the winter because you are, and were, and always will be very much loved," said the sun. "For that small place deep within you that remained unfrozen and open to mystery, that is where I have made my dwelling. And long, long before you felt my warmth surrounding you, you were being freed and formed from within in ways so deep and profound that you could not possibly know what was happening."

"I...I...I had hope," she whispered, noticing that the words seemed to come from that inner space deep within her.

"Yes, you had hope," sparkled the sun. You trusted in life and that is what enabled you to grow. For if you had no hope and trust in the center of your being, you could not have blossomed into you."

This was almost too much joy for the tree to hear. No words would come, and no words were necessary.

Weeks passed and the tree became a part of life in the meadow. She caught the kites of children who gathered nearby, and happily tossed them back gain.

"You are a good sport," they said to her. "We will call you Friend."

A young couple sat in the shade of her thickening leaves and spoke of their love for one another. "This is a special place," they said, and they left their initials on her toughened bark.

"We shall call you Keeper of Secrets," they said to her.

A tired woman, bent with care, walked silently through the meadow, oblivious to everything except her own worries. She did not notice the tree.

"Come and rest for a while," whispered the tree, but she finally had to toss a piece of fruit onto the path before the woman saw her. Wearily, the woman sat and ate the fruit, and pondered deeply. The tree could feel the woman relax as she rested against her trunk.

Finally the woman stood up. "Thank you," she said and embraced the tree.

The tree winced, for the woman had touched a spot that had not healed from the winter's ravages -- a spot that remained vulnerable even though the spring and summer months had been good to her. The woman seemed to notice and caressed the spot thoughtfully. At that moment there was a oneness -- a sense of understanding between the troubled woman and the free.

"I will call you Hope," whispered the woman, and touched her again with affection and gratitude.

Long after her fruit had been shared and she began noticing touches of scarlet in her leaves, the tree still carried deep within her the memories of all her experiences.

"Who could possibly have imagined all that has happened to me?" she said to no one in particular.

And then addressing herself to the sun, she said, "...except you!"

"Have you seen? Have you heard?" she asked eagerly. "I am needed! I am wanted! I am named! Aren't they beautiful names? I am called Friend, and Keeper of Secrets, and Hope."

"Indeed," replied the sun, splashing a smile across the evening sky. "And what is the name I have given you?"

"You named me?" the tree asked, astonished at her lack of awareness. "Long before you were a seedling," the sun replied solemnly. "What do you call me?" she asked. Watching the sun slide behind the farthest hill, she stood motionless, waiting in the promise of the newly-painted sky.

"What do you call me?" she asked again in the stillness of the night. The small voice from within said,"You are called Faithful."

"You are called FaithfuL" blinked the evening star, as if to reassure her.

The conclusion is always the same; love is the most powerful, and still the most unknown energy of the world.
-Pierre Tejihard de Chardin"

A friend tells little events from the "Little House" series as stories, and I vaguely remember one about pouring maple syrup candy on snow. My files yielded up some snow ice cream recipes.
There's also the story about all the animals crowding into a mitten.
Marilyn (I think) tells a story of a queen with a cold heart -- ending up with a marshmallow on top of hot cocoa??

Mary G. 12/10/05

The one about The Mitten is great. I like Alvin Tresselt's version. We tell it as a tandem tale and get the kids out to be the animals squeezing into the mitten only to spill out as the cricket is the "last straw." This works even with pre-school and kindergarten.

We tell "Frog and Toad's Christmas Eve," the Hanukkah story "Latkes and Applesauce" about taking in lost animals in a snow storm.

There is also a story about a girl who is sent by her evil stepmother to bring something impossible like daffodils in January. She walks into the forest and meets twelve brothers who are the months of the year and she gains their favor. I don't remember much more. [This is The Twelve Months-jb]

Sandy F. 12/10/05

22) Another good participation winter tale is the chain story of "Jack Turnip" (that is what the UK teller Hugh Lupton calls it - I now call it "The Strongest of Them All").
Hmm - now that you mention it, I've been meaning to add the skeleton of this story to the Tales section on my website for a long time - so thanks for prompting me! And here is the link:

The Giant Turnip by Henriette Barkow and Richard Johnson (illus).

Richard M. Germany 12/10/05

23) Everyone's ringing my bells today. The Mitten as a version of the crowded house, The Giant Turnip is a Russian tale, and now I remember my visit to The myth of the Virgin of Guadalupe many many years ago!

Dvora S. 12/10/05

24) One of our favorites is "The Snow Queen with the Cold, Cold Heart" from Crazy Gibberish: And Other Story Hour Stretches. We're telling it next weekend! It's good for the lower end of the age group and you can always tell the 5th graders "This is a good one to tell to kids you're babysitting."

Carol C. 12/10/05

25) How about the story Fran Stallings tells "Shingebiss and the North Wind." You can also find a copy of "The Frog Princess" on the Internet.

"Shingebiss and the North Wind" full text may be found here:

Angela D. 12/10/05

I cut and pasted this from the web. I tell a version of it with much more detailed description of the trolls.
"The Bear Trainer and His Cat" folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 1161) (also categorized as migratory legends of Christiansen type 6015)
"The Cat on the Dovrefjell"
Once upon a time there was a man up in Finnmark who had caught a large white bear, which he was going to take to the King of Denmark. It so happened that he came to the Dovrefjell on Christmas Eve. He went to a cottage where a man lived whose name was Halvor, and he asked the man for lodging for himself and his white bear.

"God bless us!" said the man, "but we can't give anyone lodging just now, for every Christmas Eve the house is so full of trolls that we are forced to move out, and we'll have no shelter over our own heads, to say nothing of providing for anyone else."

"Oh?" said the man, "If that's all, you can very well let me use your house. My bear can sleep under the stove here, and I can sleep in the storeroom."

Well, he begged so hard, that at last he got permission to stay there. The people of the house moved out, but before they went, everything was made ready for the trolls. The table was set with cream porridge and fish and sausages and everything else that was good, just as for any other grand feast.

When everything was ready, in came the trolls. Some were large, and some were small. Some had long tails, and some had no tails at all. And some had long, long noses. They ate and drank and tasted everything.

Then one of the troll youngsters saw the white bear lying under the stove, so he took a piece of sausage, stuck it onto a fork, and went and poked it against the white bear's nose, burning it. Then he shrieked, "Kitty, do you want some sausage?"

The white bear rose up and growled, and then chased the whole pack of them out, both large and small.

A year later Halvor was out in the woods at midday of Christmas Eve, gathering wood for the holidays, for he expected the trolls again. As he was chopping, he heard a voice shouting from the woods, "Halvor! Halvor!"

"Yes?" said Halvor.

"Do you still have that big cat?"

"Yes," said Halvor. "She's lying at home under the stove, and what's more, she now has seven kittens, far bigger and fiercer than she is herself."

"Then, we'll never come to your place again," shouted the troll in the woods, and since that time the trolls have never eaten their Yule porridge with Halvor on the Dovrefjell."
a.. Source: Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe, Kjetta på Dovre, Norske Folkeeventyr (1852).
b.. I used the following translation: "The Cat on the Dovrefell" from Popular Tales from Norse Mythology, translated by George Webbe Dasent (London: George Routledge and Sons, n.d.), pp. 151-152. This book appears to be a reprint of the second edition, first published in 1859.
c.. Translation revised by D. L. Ashliman. © 2000.
d.. Finnmark is the northernmost county in Norway. The Dovrefjell (sometimes spelled Dovrefell in English) is a mountain range in central.

Charles K. 12/11/05

27) Query: Would like to know your favorite winter solstice/ end-of-year / holiday stories from any cultural traditios... I've been asked to come up with a program of stories for family audience at a UU church.

Tim E. 11/4/09


a) The Twelve Months is a good story for that time of year. Also any stories about evergreen trees (like Why the Evergreen Never Loses Its Leaves) might fit.
"The Twelve Months" full text.
"Why The Evergreen Trees Never Lose Their Leaves" full text.

Those two come to mind first. I've written a good bit about winter solstice and surrounding folklore and such om my blog. If you type Solstice in the search bar on my blog, you'll get a listing of the related posts. You might also check the link for winter stories and snow stories for some ideas.

Granny Sue 11/5/09

b) I'm not sure if I ever posted this with SOS or not, but I love this story. It's one, however, that is still settling. It's a great combination of the world as it changes from Celtic pagan ritual to Christianity. I love the mystical part of it and the cliched admonishment to "not do something or you'll be sorry." Every year I resurrect it and try to capture the essence with my words, but every year, I don't think I do it justice.

Here it is
The Christmas Fairy of Strasburg (F)- German king falls in love with the lady in the lake at Christmas time. She disappears when he mentions "death" in her presence. Lights a tree every year in her memory - beginning of putting lights on the tree.

Bones (#28 in Bare Bones book "In the Spirit of the Winter Holidays")

Marilyn K. 11/5/09

c) I have several solstice programs - most include a brief intro to the solstice and some kind of light/dark ritual at the end.

Here are a few stories to consider:
Maui and the Sun by Gavin Bishop.
"Sunman" (w/song) — see #7 above.
"Raven Steals Daylight" —
A Coat for the Moon and Other Jewish Tales by Howard Schwartz.

"Great Bear & Great Oak"
"Shingebiss & North Wind" —
"Starmakers" – (from Mabel Kaplan)
"Why Fir Trees Stay Green"
"Legend of the Red Cedar" —

Meg G. 11/05/09

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