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“The Little Match Girl” is a Danish fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a young girl who sells matches during the cold winter. It was first published in 1848 as part of his fifth volume of Nye Eventyr (New Fairy Tales) as “Den Lille Pige Med Svovlstikkerne” (“The Little Girl with the Sulfursticks”).
The Little Girl with the Matchsticks
It was New Year’s Eve, and a poor little girl was out on the cold streets selling matchsticks. She was hungry and freezing, with neither hat nor shoes. She was afraid to go home for her father would surely beat her as she had not sold any matchsticks that day.
In a nook between two buildings she tried to warm herself by lighting her matches. In the light of the first match she saw a hot iron stove. She then lit a second match and this time saw a fully laden dinner table with a cooked goose that came right toward her. It too disappeared as the match went out. By the light of the third match she saw a beautiful Christmas tree lit with thousands of candles. The lights of the tree went higher and higher until she saw that they were the stars. One became a shooting star and she remembered her grandmother telling her that a shooting star means that a person has died and a soul gone to heaven.
Upon lighting the next match she saw her grandmother, the only person who ever loved her. Hoping to keep her grandmother as long as possible, she quickly lit the whole bunch of matches. Her grandmother then lifted her in her arms and they flew with joy and glory higher and higher and there was no cold, no hunger, no fear – they were with God.
The next morning her body was found with a smile upon her lips, frozen to death and with a burned out bunch of matches. “She wanted to warm herself!” people said. No one knew what beauty she had seen or with what glory she had gone with her grandmother into a joyous new year.