The Month Brothers:E166
An old Slavic fairytale about Little Sister whose wicked stepmother and stepsister send her out into a winter’s storm to gather violets. But on top of a mountain, she comes across twelve men standing around a fire – they are the Month Brothers, and they reward her sweet and loving disposition by freeing her from her cruel stepfamily. (duration – 15 minutes) An episode from the storytelling podcast, Journey with Story.
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Rejoice to See How Love Triumphs in this Beloved Fairytale
The Month Brothers – Episode 166
December 9, 2021
Do you have a favorite month of the year? What is it and why is it your favorite month?
Hello everyone. I’m Kathleen Pelley. Welcome to Journey with Story. I wonder how you answered that question. Well, let me tell you what my favorite month is – it is June – first of all because when I was growing up in Scotland, I loved how the sky would never grow dark during that month until almost midnight. Also, June is the month of my birthday, and the beginning of summer and I love beginnings. So, today’s story is an old tale from a country that used to be called Czechoslovakia, about a little girl who meets – twelve men standing around a fire and discovers that each of them is a month of the year.
Before I begin, I want to give a shout out to the winners of our author Zoom giveaway – here are our four lucky winners.
Magnus and Winston South who live in Chiselhurst, London and whose dad, Sean, entered their school.
Grace Phillips who is in 2nd grade at Nevada City School of the Arts in CA.
Avery Horst who goes to school at MLK Jr Elementary and whose teacher is Miss Hock.
Mrs. Bradbury, a sixth grade teacher whose students are studying oral traditions around the world.
Congratulations to all of our winners and if you have not already done so, please check your email inbox and get back with us ASAP at Kathleen @kathleenpelley.com so we can begin to schedule a zoom author visit for your child’s class, where I will be presenting on the wonderful world of stories – whether we are writing, reading, telling or listening to them.
Now Let’s take a journey with…The Month Brothers
Once upon a time in a country called Czechoslovakia, there lived a sweet, young girl whose name was simply, Little Sister.
She lived in a small dark hut with a mean stepsister and a cruel stepmother. Day after day these two made Little Sister do all the hard work. She scrubbed the floors, cooked the meals, washed the clothes, sewed and spun and wove. And after she finished all those chores, she had to go outside, to bring in the hay and milk the cow.
Meanwhile, her stepsister did nothing but flounce around in her fancy clothes, complaining and scolding, and whining until her voice was hoarse and scratchy.
But Little Sister never complained about her lot in life. Instead, she always managed to find something to smile about, or something to put a spring in her step. But this only made the stepmother and stepsister even nastier and grumpier and more jealous of Little Sister’s grace and beauty and sweet nature. The stepmother plotted to get rid of Little Sister, for she knew that if she stayed here at their house, no suitors would ever come to ask for the hand of her own daughter in marriage.
Finally, after days and weeks of scheming, the stepmother came up with a plan. One frigid day, in the middle of winter Stepmother took Little Sister aside and barked at her, “Listen, you must go up the mountain and find violets to decorate your sister’s gown. They must be fresh and sweet-scented-do you hear?”
“But, my dear Stepmother, whoever heard of violets blooming in the snow?” said poor Little Sister.
“You wretched creature! Do you dare to disobey me?” said Stepmother “Not another word. Off with you! If you do not bring me some violets from the mountain forest, it will be the worse for you.” Then she pushed her outside and slammed the door.
Poor Little Sister made her way to the mountain, holding back her tears and trying to muster her courage.
The snow whirled around her. A blast of icy wind almost toppled her over. She could barely feel her frozen hands and feet, and the pangs of hunger gnawed in the pit of her stomach.
She though of just lying down in the snow and letting her life ebb away. But…. suddenly she saw a light in the distance. She began to climb toward it till she reached the top of the mountain, and there she saw…
Twelve men standing in a circle around a big fire. Of these the first three had white hair, three were not quite so old, three were young and handsome, and the rest still younger.
There they all stood silently looking at the fire. They were the Twelve Months of the Year. The great January was placed higher than the others. His hair and mustache were white as snow, and in his hand he held a wand. At first Little Sister felt a sliver of fear, but after a while her courage returned, and drawing near, she said: “Please, kind sirs, may I warm myself at your fire? I am chilled by the winter cold.”
The great January raised his head and answered, “What brings you here, my daughter? What are you looking for?”
“I am looking for violets,” she replied.
“But this is not the season for violets. Do you not see the snow everywhere?” asked January.
“I know well, but my Stepmother has ordered me to bring violets from your mountain for my stepsister. If I return without them, I fear what will become of me. Please kind sirs, tell me where I may find them.”
January stood up, and went over to one of the younger of the Months, and, placing his wand in his hand, said, “Brother March, take my place in front.”
March obeyed, at the same time waving his wand over the fire. Immediately the flames rose toward the sky, the snow began to melt and the trees and shrubs to bud. The grass became green, and from between its blades peeped the pale primrose. It was spring, and the meadows were blue with violets.
“Gather them quickly, dear girl,” said March.
At once, Little Sister gathered up a big bunch of the flowers. Then she bowed her thanks to the brothers and hurried home as fast as she could.
Stepmother and Stepsister were astonished at the sight and scent of these flowers. “But where did you find them?” asked Stepsister.
Little Sister told them about the 12 men she had met on the mountaintop.
Without a word of thanks Stepmother snatched the bouquet, and shoved Little Sister right back out the door.
“Run,” she shouted, “and fetch me strawberries from the mountain. They must be very sweet and ripe.”
“But whoever heard of strawberries ripening in the snow?” exclaimed Little Sister.
“Hold your tongue, you impudent child. Go at once and do as I tell you or it will be the worse for you.” Then Stepmother slammed the door and bolted it shut.
Once more, poor Little Sister braved the cold and the wind and the snow until at last she reached the mountain, and the blazing fire round which now the Twelve Month Brothers sat. January again was seated in the highest place. “Kind sirs, may I warm myself at your fire?” she asked. “The winter cold chills me.”
January raised his head and asked: “Why do you come here again? What do you want?”
“I am looking for strawberries,” Little Sister answered.
“But we are in the midst of winter,” replied January, “strawberries do not grow in the snow.”
“I know,” said Little Sister with a sigh, “but my stepmother has ordered me to bring her strawberries. If I do not then, I do not know what shall become of me. Pray, good sirs, tell me where to find them.”
January stood up, crossed over to the Month opposite him, and putting the wand in his hand, said: “Brother June, go now take the highest place.”
June obeyed, and as he waved his wand over the fire the flames leaped toward the sky. Instantly the snow melted, the earth was covered in a lush green carpet, the leaves on the trees budded and bloomed, birds began to sing, and all kinds of colorful flowers blossomed in the forest. It was summer.
Under the bushes masses of star-shaped flowers changed into ripening strawberries, and instantly they covered the glade, in a sea of crimson.
Brother June told Little Sister to take only five of the berries home. So Little Sister carefully scooped them into her apron and hurried home.
But when Stepmother saw only five berries in her apron, she scolded Little Sister soundly. Meanwhile Stepsister gobbled up all those five berries and then, greedy for more, she wrapped herself in all her furs and woolens.
“I will go myself and find these 12 men you told us about. I will demand they give me more of these strawberries,” said Stepsister as she headed out into the frigid cold.
She had not gone far before she saw a blazing fire up ahead. She followed the bright light and boldly marched right up to the Month Brothers and took a place in front of the fire, demanding a basketful of those delicious strawberries that Little Sister had found.
“How dare you be so bold!” shouted Brother January, and he swung his staff in the air. The wind blew. The snow fell thick and fast. The old brothers, their fire, all was lost in a swirl of white, flying snow. Stepsister soon disappeared into the storm.
Back at home, Stepmother became worried. What was keeping the girl so long? So she too bundled into her warmest clothes and set out in search of her daughter. But she did not go far, for Brother January was watching. And once more he swung his staff in the air. The wind blew. The snow fell faster and thicker and soon all was a swirl of white flying snow.
Meanwhile, back at the cabin, Little Sister waited and waited, but Stepmother and Stepsister never returned. No one ever saw them again.
Little Sister returned to her chores, working gladly and happily as best she could. After some years had passed, Little Sister met a good -hearted farmer, who became her husband. Every year, the Month Brothers graced their land with a bounty of fruit and vegetables and the sweetest scented flowers, so that they never wanted for anything and lived a long and happy life.
Can you tell me what the story souvenir of this story is? Yes, I think it is a familiar souvenir from many, many of the stories you have heard on this podcast – Good Triumphs Evil – or Better to be Kind than Cruel –right! A fitting souvenir for this Christmas season – Here’s to all the stories that celebrate goodness and kindness and help us build a better world.
Now if any of this story painted some pictures in your mind, we would love to see how you think the 12 Month Brothers looked, so do send us those drawings.
Oh, grown ups – if you haven’t already done so, can you please take a moment to rate and review this podcast wherever you listen to it and then share with a friend or two? Thank you so much.
Cheerio then, join me next time for Journey with Story.