The tale of the the holly oak
The tale why the holly oak carries its leaves for so longThere was a farmer once and the farmer entered a dark forest. He had to get to the other side to sell his goods at the market in the little town and he had gone this path many times already so he knew where he was headed.
The farmer also had a wife and a little son. And he thought about them as he went. So, he didn’t notice that his practiced feet left the well-known path and led him to a cliff. He fell over the edge but managed to grab a twig and pulled himself up again. God was very pleased to see that the good and fair farmer hadn’t fallen but the devil was outraged.
Seething, he stepped in the way of the farmer and threatened him.
“You saved your life!”, he boomed and the farmer was terrified, “But I’m going to take your son now!”
The farmer began pleading and begging that the devil may take his leave without taking his beloved son with him and the devil finally let his soul soften and make a deal with the farmer. He said:
“I will take your son when the last leaves have fallen!”
And the farmer cried and pleaded but the devil was already gone and the farmer was alone.
The trees had heard all that and talked to each other about the farmers fate. Then they beseeched the farmer who was still crying and said:
“We will try to keep our leaves up, to give you more time!”
And the farmer thanked them and it became fall. One tree after the other gave up against the hard storms and the bitter cold and they let one leaf after the other fall. The farmer got desperate and held his son close each evening and feared he would lose him soon.
On another day deep in winter he walked through the forest again and got sad that so many trees had already lost their leaves. But he didn’t blame them, it was their nature. Then he saw the holly oak. The holly oak was the only tree who still stood up to its promise and stayed strong against the weather. The farmer went to the tree and spoke to it.
“It’s okay, you don’t have to hold your breath any longer. I have said my goodbye to my son and while I will miss him dearly he knows I love him.”
But the holly oak said:
“No, I will hold out for you! I will keep my leaves, I will help you when the others can’t anymore!”
The farmer was grateful and visited the holly oak every day but in spring the tree was exhausted and it wheezed and ached and soon, the last leaf had fallen to the ground.
And the devil appeared again and stepped to the farmer and said:
“Hah! All leaves have fallen! I will now take your son!”
And the farmer was sad but then he looked around and began to laugh. The devil was irritated and asked him why he laughed. And the farmer gestured around and told him:
“But look, you’re lying. The holly oak has carried its leaves long enough for the other trees to grow new ones again!”
And the devil had to leave without taking the farmer’s son for the holly oak had saved his life.