Frau Holle

Also running amok was Berchta’s more northerly incarnation, Frau Holle, who used to take charge of all infants who died before they could be baptized. The stubbled fields over which the broomstick-mounted Frau Holle and her adopted children flew at Christmastime would be especially bountiful at the next harvest,

but if you looked up at the flight of spirits as they passed overhead, you would be struck blind. Frau Holle eventually lost her sacred season in the north, but, thanks to the Brothers Grimm, she is remembered in a fairy tale.

Frau Holle is the stereotypical German Hausfrau. The snow is the goose down that swirls into the sky when she shakes out her voluminous featherbed; the fog is the steam wafting up from the pots on her stove, and the thunder is the turning of her flax reel. Frau Holle was always looking for good help. To apply for the

maid’s position in her house, you first had to pass through water, either the pool in which she bathed to make herself young again, or an ordinary well.