Mother Hulda

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Goldmarie from the fairy tale Frau Holle , illustration by Hermann Vogel

Frau Holle is a fairy tale ( ATU 480). It is in the children's and house tales by the Brothers Grimm at position 24 (KHM 24). According to Aarne and Thompson , the fairy tale belongs to fairy tale type 480D: Stories of good and naughty girls . The legendary figure Perchta (Frau Holle) was incorporated into the fairy tale . An earlier version was called Murmelthier .


A widow likes her ugly, lazy daughter and not the beautiful, hardworking stepdaughter. She has to sit at the fountain and spin until her fingers are bloody, while the other sits at home doing nothing. While cleaning, the bloody coil falls into the well. The stepmother wants her to get her back, she jumps into the well and wakes up in a meadow. There she complies with the request to get baked bread out of the oven and shake apples from the tree. She serves old Frau Holle with her big teeth, diligently shakes her bed, then it snows in the world. Finally she wants to go home, Frau Holle leads her through a gate, where gold falls on her, and also gives her the spool back. The widow sends her daughter there too, but she is lazy because she has never learned to do work. Therefore she does not comply with the requests of the bread, the apples and also not those of Frau Holle. Bad luck falls on them when they parting, and it doesn't go away.


Otto Ubbelohde : Frau Holle lets it snow

The fairy tale appeared in the first edition of Children's and Household Tales from 1812 based on the stories by Dorothea Wild . In the second edition it was changed by adding the tap. Wilhelm Grimm was inspired by Georg August Friedrich Goldmanns. He got to know this motif during a stay in Westphalia. Clemens Brentano saw an original version of Frau Holle, written by Jacob Grimm, and then wrote his fairy tale about the marmot .

In the first print from 1812, the mother is not yet a stepmother. The heroine only fetches water from the well and bends too low, without a bloody coil. The 2nd edition largely corresponds to the 7th edition of the last hand, including the crowing rooster. From the 6th edition onwards there is a more detailed description of how the heroine fetches the bread with the bread pusher and piles up the apples, and also her emotional state, how she only slowly realizes that she is homesick “for my family”. Her simple expression "I got the misery home ..." remained, whereupon Ms. Holle praised from the 3rd edition "I like that you ask for home again ..." (previously only: "You are right ..."). The formula “boiled and fried” is already in the first print, as in KHM 85 and later KHM 36 , 54 , it is also documented in Old High German.

Grimm's comment mentions “Hesse and Westphalia” on the origin and gives a “third story from the Schwalm area”, which resembles Hansel and Gretel : A beautiful and a nasty girl spin at the well. The skirt falls into the beautiful , it goes after. Below it meets a pear tree, a calf, an oven and eats from a pancake house. Inside is a red old woman who shouts “the wind, the heavenly child! come in and lick me ”. She throws them to sleep, steals a gold dress and flees. They don't reveal the oven, calf and pear tree, upstairs the rooster shouts “our golden girl is coming!” The nasty one imitates it, but the oven, calf and pear tree betray them, and the old woman sullies her gold dress. A “fourth story from Paderborn” is similar: a girl shakes a little tree, milks a cow, takes bread out of the oven and fools a witch, a monkey and a bear in a house, for which she gets beautiful clothes and treasures. Then it can be pulled up again in the fountain. A black dog seeks it, but things are headed the wrong way. The wicked, on the other hand, are beaten and pushed by the tree and the cow. A fifth, again "Hessian story": A woman ties her daughter's skirt tight so that it does not fall in, the stepdaughter does not, and then throws her down. She comes into a house, saves soup, roasts and cakes from overflowing and burning, only nibbles a few crumbs, combs the witch's matted hair without plucking it, and is rewarded. The other daughter is doing everything wrong. They give a “sixth story from Thuringia” in Wilhelm Reynitzsch's book Über Truhten und Truhtensteine , Gotha 1802, pp. 128–131: The spindle of the beautiful falls into the well, the ugly one pushes her down, a white man and a singer lead her to a red cow she is milking and to a town. Out of humility, she chooses the Pechtor and the black house, but is led through the gold gate and into the white house, does not live with cats and snakes either, but rather beautiful spinners, spins gold flax, eats and drinks. At home the yellow rooster greets you (“kickericki, kickericki!” - “here comes the golden Marie!”). With the ugly sister everything turns out the other way round, in a foggy apartment with snakes and toads she has no peace. Murmelthier reproduces Grimm's comment and mentions “77” from Swabia near Meier , Kuhn No. 9, from Holstein near Müllenhoff “No. 31. 51 "," a story from Alsace "in Stöber's " Volksbuch p. 113 ", in Norwegian at Asbjörnsen p. 86," Romansh from Bukowina "in Wolf's Zeitschrift für Mythologie 1, 42, in the Pentameron " 4, 7 " The two small cakes , "the first fairy tale in the Braunschweig collection" ( fairy tale. For entertainment for friends of the fairy world , Braunschweig 1801 from publisher Friedrich Bernhard Culemann ), "the proud pine" from Ziska p. 38, two Serbian ones Fairy tales in Wuk No. 34 and 36 as well as stories by Frau Holle in Grimms Deutsche Sagen “Volume 2” and Panzer zur German Mythologie 1, “125. 190 ”, to the Nordic PF Müller“ Sagenbibl. 1, 274, 275 ". In Hesse they say “Frau Holle is making her bed” when it is snowing, in Holstein “St. Peter weathered his bed "or" the angels pick feathers and down. "


Statue of Frau Holle at the Frau-Holle-Teich on the Hohe Meissner

In the fairy tale, from the 2nd edition on, the formerly frequent intra-family conflict is dealt with, when many women died in childbirth, the widowers often remarried and had competing half-siblings. In Grimm's fairy tales from the 2nd edition, the bad mother is always a stepmother . The spindle is the object of female industry, gold an expression of appreciation, here contrasted by bad luck . Fairy tales of the good and bad girl are popular. Cf. already in Giambattista Basiles Pentameron IV, 7 The two small cakes . Cf. Die Goldmaria and Pechmaria and Der goldenne Rehbock in Ludwig Bechstein's German fairy tale book , in the edition of 1845 also Der Garten im Brunnen . There is also a witch in the fountain in Grimms Märchen in Das Blaue Licht . Even the Regentrude of Theodor Storm lives in the accessible through a hollow willow underworld. The Bulgarian fairy tale The Golden Girl tells a similar story .

The home of this fairy tale cannot be clearly determined, as there are several regions in which the residents claim that Frau Holle is at home in one of her mountains. This is how the Hohe Meißner between Kassel and Eschwege , the Hörselberge near Eisenach and the towns of Hörselberg and Hollerich are named. Mythologically, the fairy tale seems to deal with older material. First of all, jumping into the well with the subsequent journey into the Otherworld (or here well world ) should be mentioned. Frau Holle (Hulda, Perchta ) is the great goddess, "Mother Earth" . The beautiful meadow may remind readers of esoteric books of near-death experiences from the karma judgment .

According to Hedwig von Beit, the shadow figure of Pechmarie personifies on the one hand a particularly unconscious, careless and on the other hand a one-sidedly conscious, calculating attitude, cf. KHM 89 , 107 , 126 . In other fairy tales these opposing aspects of the shadow are represented by two figures (KHM 57 , 63 , 106 ). There is also this double aspect in Frau Holle, she resembles Frau Hulda , Perchta , Hel . The heroine is confronted with her archaic femininity while spinning at the well, bread in the oven and apple tree, whereby the unconscious compensates for the barren life of the disadvantaged in fertile instinctual life. Spinning is a female test of proficiency (see KHM 9 , 14 , 49 , 50 , 55 , 65 , 67 , 79 , 128 , 156 , 181 , 179 , 188 ), the well access to the unconscious (see also KHM 1 , 91 ), to the Relation of the grain to the Great Mother cf. the Eleusinian Mysteries , at the same time bread expresses a human effort. The apple tree is reminiscent of Idun , although the shaking may also indicate a male function. The snow sky embodies a spiritually cooler sphere of the unconscious. The gilding and cock crowing identify the heroine with the rising sun, i.e. H. newly won awareness (cf. Song of Songs ).

According to Eugen Drewermann , this fairy tale is exceptionally more religious and philosophical than depth psychological: good and bad and how to deal with them. Goldmarie and Pechmarie stand for sun and moon in the house of "Frau Welt", as they said in the Middle Ages. Frau Holle is the Germanic earth and sky goddess Hulda or Berchta , in whose world well the sun descends daily. The fountain is also a baptismal symbol. The tasks are then the seasons (the meadow is spring, the oven with bread in summer, apples harvest in autumn and it snows in winter (through the feather pillow)). Myths know such unequal pairs of siblings, such as Esau and Jakob , Lea and Rachel ( Gen 25  EU or Gen 29  EU ). Obedience to the good ultimately leads to resignation . Now it obeys the harmony of the things in the world. Thanks to the Great Goddess , good things are now worthwhile. The dualism of mere justice in the hereafter is also overcome. The good doesn't need the bad at all, it just apes (cf. Ps 73.18  EU , Ps 92.7  EU ).

Wilhelm Salber sees divisions here with changing assignments in search of stability. The constant inversions can be felt as betrayal, the attempts at appropriation lead to colorlessness. Christine Semotan analyzes the fairy tale from the point of view of gestalt psychology and individual psychology - Goldmarie and Pechmarie can be understood as representations of "objectivity" and "selfhood". The homeopath Martin Bomhardt compares the fairy tale with the drug picture of Aranea diadema , Causticum , sodium carb .


At Janosch , Ms. Holle can't do the job because the good sister ran away with a pastry chef and the other is lazy, and that's why snow, bread and apples are so unevenly distributed and things are so bad in the world. In Kerstin Hensel's short parody soap fairy tales , Goldmarie is kidnapped and boiled to soap. A manga was published by Luisa Velontrova .


In addition to the well-known fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, there are numerous other legends about Frau Holle, for example in Grimm's German Legends , No. 4–8.

Frau Holle was worshiped on numerous mountains. Many legends have been handed down in the region of the Hohe Meissner in northern Hesse. The Frau Holle pond is said to be infinitely deep and the entrance to her other world , which was also described in the fairy tale of the Brothers Grimm.

In the vernacular , Mrs. Holle is responsible for the amount of snow in winter, because the more thoroughly she shakes out her beds, the more it snows on earth.

According to other legends, Mrs. Holle blesses the green corridors in spring by walking across fields and meadows, whereby the sap shoots into the plants and nature awakens. Ms. Holle is also said to have taught people numerous cultural techniques such as spinning and weaving .

The elder ( also: Holler ) is a plant that is especially dedicated to Frau Holle. Maybe even his name came from her.

Children who had been placed in a cradle made of elderberry were threatened to fall victim to a robbery by Mrs. Holle (see also: Elderberry # The elderberry in religion, myth and superstition or popular belief ).

It is also reported that Ms. Holle gives cakes, flowers or fruit and especially helps women and girls, wishes them “many a good year” and makes them healthy and fertile.

According to other legends, Mrs. Holle is considered to be the bringer of the children or she carries the souls of the unbaptized children with her. In Gotha , Thuringia , tradition has survived to this day that Mrs. Holle looked after the unborn Gotha children in the White Fountain (a now covered and, according to legend, “infinitely deep” spring west of the city center) until their time had come.

Mrs. Holle is also considered to be the patroness of the spinners. Sometimes parallels to the Norns or Parzenes are drawn here.

Furthermore, Mrs. Holle is considered to be the ruler of the treasures of the earth's interior.

At the time of the rough nights , between 21./22. December and 2/3 January (due to the Gregorian calendar reform in some places time-shifted between December 24th and January 6th), it is said to have risen to the surface of the earth to see who was busy or who was lazy during the year. Therefore, today it is also associated with the mythical figure Nerthus mentioned by Tacitus .

Some legends tell of how Frau Holle, in the form of Aunt Mühlen, tests people's souls: As an old and helpless woman, she asks for food and shelter. Those who help her will be richly rewarded. But if people from greed reject this help, they will be punished. For example B. the rich and hard-hearted farmer of the honey farm near Wickenrode (Hessen) his daughter because she had given an old woman (Frau Holle) to eat and drink, and he set his dogs on her. As a punishment, Frau Holle burned the yard. The farmer and his son perished in the fire, while his daughter was protected from the flames.

The folklorist Karl Paetow systematically collected the numerous legends about Frau Holle for the first time. The matriarchy researcher Heide Göttner-Abendroth has tried in her book "Frau Holle - das Feenvolk der Dolomiten" to arrange the legends about Frau Holle chronologically and to reconstruct them according to the matriarchal theory she advocates .

Theories of Origin

According to Heide Göttner-Abendroth, numerous archaic motifs in the sagas point to the old age of this figure, who in her opinion goes back to a great mother goddess of the Neolithic .

The historian Karl Kollmann comes to the conclusion that written traces of Frau Holle can be traced back at least 1000 years. The earliest written mention can be found in the decrees of Bishop Burchard von Worms , which were written between 1008 and 1012. In his opinion, however, she is much older: “The evidence speaks strongly in favor of the assumption that Ms. Holle is not a ghost figure or a vegetation demon, but the regional embodiment of an ancient female earth deity, as one can find her almost everywhere in the world among the most diverse Has worshiped names. "

The Germanist Erika Timm assumes that the name Holle (roughly: the gracious) was originally an epithet of the Germanic goddess Frigg . This became independent after Christianization, among other things because it was no longer advisable to name or even to call on a " pagan " goddess. Because that would have been sanctioned as idolatry . The Perchta (for example: the shiny one) , which is known in southern Germany and the Alps, would have developed from another nickname of Frigg, with the peculiarity that this figure also played a role in specifically Noric ideas. Harke or Harre are also names of related figures. Another relationship is established to the Germanic death goddess Hel .

The name is not etymologically related to the goddess Nehalennia .

regional customs

Folklorists also report customs related to Frau Holle. In the past, young women in particular were said to have bathed in the Frau Holle pond on the Hohe Meißner if they wanted to become fertile. Healing powers have also been attributed to the water of this pond. When schoolgirls from the area looked into the pond and saw their reflection in the mirror, they would shout: “These are Frau Holle's children.” They also wanted to have recognized the hair tips of the unborn in the reeds. This custom was still widespread in the 1930s.

Around 1850 a shepherd found two gold coins from the Roman Empire near the Holleteich (1st century BC). Excavations near the pond in 1937 unearthed pottery shards from the Middle Ages and earlier times. This may indicate that offerings were made to Frau Holle at this pond.

In the 19th century, boys and girls danced at night near Holleloch near Schlitz and sang the following song, of which only the first verse is known:

"Miameide - stands on the heather -
has a green skirt on.
There are three beautiful maidens at it.
One looks forward,
the other into the wind.
The woman on Borne
has many, many children. "

This song probably has pre-Christian origins. The exact meaning can no longer be determined. The last two lines in particular could indicate the role of Mrs. Holle as bringing the children.

Another custom in northern Hesse, especially in the Meißner region, relates to New Year's Eve: On New Year's Eve, the children put a pot or a bowl in front of the door. On New Year's morning, the good children will find a small present under the upturned pot.

In the Thuringian village of Schnett in the municipality of Masserberg , the end of the Rauhnächte with the so-called Hullefraansnacht , d. H. the night of Frau Holle, who appears in the form of the Stöheren .


In Germanic neo-paganism (especially in the Urglaawe and the Firnen custom ), Frau Holle is worshiped as a goddess.


  • Mrs. Holle (Goldmarie and Pechmarie) . A children's fairy tale comedy in 3 pictures by Robert Bürkner .
  • Mrs. Holle (Goldmarie and Pechmarie) . A fairy tale based on the Brothers Grimm. New version based on Robert Bürkner by Rolf B. Wessels .

Musical theater

Richard Wagner's works contain numerous references to various aspects of Frau Holle, which reflect Wagner's creative handling of Germanic mythology. In the opera Tannhäuser the young shepherd sings about the arrival of spring with the words "Mrs. Holda came out of the mountain, to pull through corridors and meadows". Holle's legendary place of residence in Hörselberg near Eisenach becomes the Venusberg for Wagner, where his hero retreats from the world. Here the aspects of the spring are linked to those of the goddess of love (albeit with the Graecoromanic Venus instead of the Germanic Frigg / Freia). The retreat into the worldly realm of the goddess of love also includes the aspect of Hel, the realm of the dead.

In the Rheingold , Freia, the goddess of love and youth, is referred to by the giants as "Freia, the lovely, Holda, the free". Wagner also draws a linguistic connection between Frau Holle and the Germanic goddess of youth and spring. The chthonic aspect of the goddess of death is illustrated in the Ring of the Nibelung by the amalgamation of Holla and Hel to form the made-up word Hella: Siegmund refuses to be brought to Valhalla after his predetermined death, he wants to stay in the realm of the dead: "Hella." hold me tight! ”And in Götterdämmerung there is also talk of“ Hella's nocturnal army ”.

Film adaptations

Frau Holle path

In northern Hesse and southern Lower Saxony there is the approximately 185 km long Frau-Holle -pfad , which leads from Bad Karlshafen through the Reinhardswald , Bramwald , Kaufunger Wald , over the Hohe Meißner , through the Stölzinger Gebirge , Richelsdorf mountains and the Kuppenrhön to Schenklengsfeld . Along the hiking trail you can find out about the fairy tale Frau Holle on the display boards . This is also possible in the Holleum in Hessisch Lichtenau .

See also


Scientific texts

  • Welf-Gerrit Otto: Controversy about a sculpture of Frau Holle on the Hoher Meissner. In: Schleswig-Holstein. The culture magazine for the north. Special Issue II: Myths / Fairy Tales, 2017, pp. 50–55.
  • Welf-Gerrit Otto: Frau Holle: Of super mothers, women who drive at night and the appropriation of a fairytale figure. In: Schleswig-Holstein. The culture magazine for the north. 04/2017, pp. 62–69.
  • Marianne Rumpf: Mrs. Holle . In: Encyclopedia of Fairy Tales . Volume 5. Berlin 1987, Col. 159-168
  • Marianne Rumpf: Perchten. Popular beliefs between myth and catechesis . Wuerzburg 1991
  • Erika Timm (with the assistance of Gustav Adolf Beckmann): Mrs. Holle, Mrs. Percht and related figures. 160 years after Jacob Grimm from a German point of view . Hirzel, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-7776-1230-8 ; Review (PDF)

Interpretations of the fairy tale

  • Hedwig von Beit: Symbolism of the fairy tale. Francke, Bern 1952, pp. 664-678.
  • Ulla Wittmann: I fool forgot the magic things. Fairy tales as a way of life for adults . Ansata-Verlag, Interlaken 1985, ISBN 3-7157-0075-0 ; Pp. 203-213.
  • Friedel Lenz: the imagery of fairy tales . 8th edition. Free Spiritual Life and Urachhaus publishing house, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-87838-148-4 , pp. 184-190.
  • Eugen Drewermann : Dear little sister, let me in. Grimm's fairy tales interpreted in terms of depth psychology . 11th edition. Dtv, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-423-35050-4 , pp. 363-395.
  • Wilfried Richert: The mystery of Frau Holle; the fairy tale, the holy places, the myth, the message . Books on Demand , Norderstedt ISBN 978-3-7347-3858-6 .
  • Ingrid Riedel: How an unloved daughter becomes a strong woman. Mrs. Holle ; Kreuz-Verlag, Stuttgart 2005; ISBN 978-3-7831-2751-5 .
  • Kerstin Weber: Anette Rath-Beckmann interprets fairy tales - a shamanic journey to Frau Holle . In: Werra-Rundschau, Eschwege 2015, Tuesday February 24th, 2015 (Bad Sooden-Allendorf, Eschwege, Meißner) p. 6, with 1 ill.
  • Christine Semotan: Self -hood and relevant action in the fairy tale "Frau Holle" . In: Phenomenal 10 (3), pp. 3-14.

Mythology and sagas

  • Heide Göttner-Abendroth: Mrs. Holle. The fairy people of the Dolomites; the great goddess myths of Central Europe and the Alps ; Verlag Helmer, Königstein / Taunus 2006; ISBN 3-89741-167-9 .
  • Karl Kollmann : Frau Holle and the Meißnerland ; Historical Society of the Werra Valley, Heiligenstadt 2005; ISBN 3-929413-90-6 . Detailed documentation of the first written certificates and precise assessment of all regional legends with a check on the real background.
  • Karl Kollmann: Frau Holle and the Meißnerland - On the trail of a myth. 2nd ext. Edition Eschwege 2007, 156 pp.
  • Karl Paetow : Mrs. Holle. Folk tales and legends ; Husumer VG, Husum 1986; ISBN 3-88042-331-8 .
  • Welf-Gerrit Otto: Frau Holle: Of super mothers, women who drive at night and the appropriation of a fairytale figure. In: Schleswig-Holstein. The culture magazine for the north , 04/2017, pp. 62–69, ISSN  0937-7247

Web links

Wikisource: Frau Holle  - sources and full texts
Commons : Frau Holle  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Brothers Grimm: Children's and Household Tales Volume 3 Original Notes, Proof of Origin Afterword . 2010, p. 469
  2. Lothar Bluhm and Heinz Rölleke: “Popular speeches that I always listen to”. Fairy tale - proverb - saying. On the folk-poetic design of children's and house fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm. New edition. S. Hirzel Verlag, Stuttgart / Leipzig 1997, ISBN 3-7776-0733-9 , pp. 63-64.
  3. Todor Valov: The Golden Girl . ( Memento from January 13, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) German-Sorbian People's Theater Bautzen.
  4. Hedwig von Beit: Symbolism of the fairy tale. Francke, Bern 1952. pp. 664-678.
  5. Eugen Drewermann: Dear little sister, let me in. Grimm's fairy tales interpreted in terms of depth psychology. 11th edition. dtv, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-423-35050-4 , pp. 366-395.
  6. ^ Wilhelm Salber: fairy tale analysis (= work edition Wilhelm Salber. Volume 12). 2nd Edition. Bouvier, Bonn 1999, ISBN 3-416-02899-6 , pp. 93-95.
  7. Christine Semotan: Self -hood and relevant action in the fairy tale "Frau Holle", Phenomenal 10 (3), 3-14.
  8. ^ Martin Bomhardt: Symbolic Materia Medica. 3. Edition. Verlag Homeopathie + Symbol, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-9804662-3-X , pp. 126, 416, 935.
  9. Janosch: Frau Holle. In: Janosch tells Grimm's fairy tale. Fifty selected fairy tales, retold for today's children. With drawings by Janosch. 8th edition. Beltz and Gelberg, Weinheim and Basel 1983, ISBN 3-407-80213-7 , pp. 51-55.
  10. Kerstin Hensel: soap fairy tales. In: Die Horen , Volume 1/52, No. 225, 2007, p. 20, ISSN  0018-4942 .
  11. Grimm's Manga. Special tape. Tokyopop, Hamburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-8420-0638-6 .
  12. Peter Kurz, Michael Machatschek, Bernhard Igelhauser: Hedges. History and ecology. Creation, conservation & use . 1st edition. Stocker, Graz and Stuttgart 2001, p. 371 .
  13. ^ Andreas M. Cramer, Die Gothaer Sagen , Gotha 2005, p. 76
  14. The White Fountain on
  15. Heide Göttner-Abendroth: Frau Holle - The fairy people of the Dolomites ; Königstein / Taunus 2006; P. 136.
  16. ^ Karl Kollmann: Frau Holle and the Meißnerland . Heiligenstadt 2005, p. 15 f.
  17. Erika Timm: Frau Holle, Frau Percht and related figures .
  18. Wilfried Richert: The mystery of Frau Holle: the fairy tale, the holy places, the myth, the message . 2015, p. 82.
  19. Daniela Brotsack: Paths through the valley of dreams: Tales of customs and traditions in Upper and Lower Bavaria . 2014, p. 103.
  20. cf. Karl Kollmann: Frau Holle und das Meißnerland, Heiligenstadt 2005, pp. 31, 38 and 41.
  21. ^ Karl Kollmann: Frau Holle and the Meißnerland ; Heiligenstadt 2005; P. 131.
  22. Eugen Ernst: Christmas through the ages . 2nd Edition. Theiss Verlag, 2007.
  24. ( Memento from July 14, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  25. GardenStone: Goddess Holle . Books on Demand , Norderstedt 2006, ISBN 3-8334-4579-3
  26. a b c d see Internet Movie Database Frau Holle ( page no longer available , search in web archives: IMDb )@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /