Permanent Tourist

The personal website of Mark Howells-Mead

Frau Holle

There are many unusual phrases which crop up from time to time when you live in a country where the national language is predominantly foreign. In the German language, there are a great number of phrases or unfamiliar references, from the slightly coarse to the bizarre.

One such reference comes around at this time of year, when the weather becomes more wintry and the first snow flakes start to fall. You start to hear of “Frau Holle”, who is blamed – or credited – for the snow flakes. “If Frau Holle carries on much longer, the countryside will be white soon!

The reference is to a figure from a Grimm fairy tale: that of Mother Holle, in which a protagonist (the “good daughter”) causes white feathers to fly when she makes Mother Holle’s bed.

…every time she made the bed she shook it with all her might, so that the feathers flew about like so many snowflakes…

(The image accompanying this post is used under public domain license from Wikimedia Commons.)

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