The Legend of the Christmas Tree, a Bird and a Fir Tree

This legend of the Christmas Tree, of a lost bird and a kind fir tree, comes from the land where I was born, Romania. Enjoy it (it even begins like any Romanian tale). Merry Christmas!

Once upon a time, long… long before anything else happened… when not even something whose remote likeliness could ever occur before even happened… once upon a time something did occur, for if it had not happened it could not be told…

When the flea had one foot shod with ninety-nine pounds of iron and still jumped into the glory of the sky to bring us fairy tales… When the fly would write its name on the wall, a bigger liar being the one who doesn’t believe what he is told… 

Once upon a time, just after the stars and the earth first came to be and a few other seasons too… it was time for the first Autumn to throw its coat over the world. Days cooled down faster than before and shortened in height too, and all that was green turned copper, brown and timid gold… As a result most animals scattered away – almost overnight – looking for the warmth of a different shelters, and most birds hurriedly pointed their tails backwards, flapped their wings and were quick to follow the last of the tender winds towards warmer lands… All birds that is, except for one, small and rather brown, often overlooked, who loved the place where she’d spent the spring of her life and a happy summer so very much that she chose to stay…. Well, her broken wing might have influenced her decision too…

The Legend of Christmas Tree, the Bird and the Fir Tree. Cyanocitta-cristata blue bird in winter

The tiny bird stood perched on a branch at the wedge of the forest, watching as all her friends were taking off. A whips of cool wind suddenly swirled around and the bird fluffed her tender feathers to warm up, but winced when her broken wing moved. Out of the corner of her eye she saw heavy white clouds heading from the north, almost chasing her departing friends, but thought little of it. Yet, as if to mock her, a large drop of rain fell from the sky aiming (really?) and landing (oh, no!) on the tiny bird’s tail… And she nearly lost her balance. Time to look for shelter too, she thought.

But the mighty oaknut refused to offer her cover for he did not want his acorns pecked and none left for spring. He even shook his branch and the bird, half flying half tumbling over, landed on the ground. It was cold and bare now, the soft grass that had cushioned her falls during spring while she learned to fly long gone. So was its sweet scent, and the perfume of flowers.

The bird sighed and hopped to another tree, a different looking one rising nearby, to try her luck. Strong, tall and with green and golden leaves, surely he won’t mind a tiny bird? It took her a long time to reach him, for after each hop she had to stop and catch her breath… her wing so sore.

But when she was near enough to see his bark, so rough, she dared not open her beak. Overhead, the clouds hung lower; around, a sly chill had taken over the land while shadows were long and heavy. She shuddered, sure that by morning her feet will be glued to the ice underfoot.

She’ll have to ask… But the maple tree denied her his shelter too.

The Legend of Christmas Tree, the Bird and the Fir Tree - outside Sighisoara fortress walls

A gush of wind mocked the tiny bird rolling her away, her wing half frozen that it had ceased being sore… Rolling between one tree to the next was she till she reached the lonely tree… the one all birds made sure to keep away from. For he was so different. So boring looking, all prickles and needles and awkwardly growing. Abandoned to the will of the wind the bird rolled around its dark trunk with eyes shut tight, tail tucked in, neck bent as if even the bones in it had rushed to warmer lands… She rolled till a deep voice, as if from a dream, invited her to seek shelter in his branches. To seek refuge from the nasty wind. To stay safe throughout winter. And so the tiny brown bird made her home among the green needles of a fir tree.

That night an even chillier wind, as frosty and biting as never before, swept through the forest and claimed its currency of leaves, and by morning all the trees got to see the true colors of their bark, for all the leaves had fallen to the ground.

All trees that is, except for the one where the brown bird had found her shelter.

The forest was stunned, Lady Winter and her first advisor, that nasty chilly wind known as crivăț (crivetz), were bewildered. So the wind swirled and howled all the way to the Creator of all nature and yelped – rather than asked for he knew no other way – ‘how was it possible that a tree was left green, allowed to keep its leaves, when all others were bare? Currency! We need all the currency we can get. Let Me! Let me shake, shake, shake off its leaves too’, screeched the wind.

The Creator smiled, his heart happy, and – with a giggle in his throat – denied the wind’s request.

‘The fir tree, and all his kin, shall forever keep their leaves, for one fir tree showed mercy in time of need when all else turned their back.’

The legend says that this is why all trees lose their green coat ahead of winter, all except for the fir tree who was merciful and kind. And to remember his good deed, each winter we place presents around him, and thank him for his kind heart.

frozen snow mening pictures

For more short stories, you might like to check out:

Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories
Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories