Friday, 21 December 2012

Folklore Snippets: Stealing Cream

Stealing Cream for Butter
From Scandinavian Folklore, ed William Craigie 1896

Here’s a Norse version of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, in which we learn about theft, greed, and the power of multiplication, and in which a young person learns to follow instructions carefully or rue the consequences…

There was once a woman in Stödov on Helge-neas, who practised witchcraft.  She had the custom, when she was about to make butter, of saying, “A spoonful of cream from every one in the county”; and in this way she always got her churn quite full of cream.  One day it happened that she had an errand into town, just when they were about to churn, and said to the maid, “You can churn when I am away, but before you begin you must say, ‘A spoonful of cream form every one in the county’; I shall take care then that plenty of cream will come to you.”  She then went away, and the maid began to churn but when she came to say the words that the witch had taught her, she thought that a spoonful from every one was so very little, so she said, “a pint of cream from every one in the county.”

Now she got cream, and that in plenty.  The churn was filled, and the cream still continued to come, till at last the kitchen was half full of cream. When the woman returned home, the girl stood bailing the cream out at the kitchen door, and the witch was very angry that the maid had gone beyond her orders and asked for a pint instead of a spoonful, for now every one could easily see that cream had been stolen from them.  After this the girl never got leave to make the butter by herself.

Picture credit: Study for Woman Churning Butter, Jean-Francois Millet, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Wikimedia Commons

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