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Why the moon gets smaller and bigger


Kirstin Hartmann


Heidel Dedekind

Long ago, Mother Moon lit up the sky every night. She had a blanket woven from the most beautiful golden thread. Her blanket shone so brightly that there was enough light for all people to see their way through the darkness. 

Sometimes, Mother Moon wrapped her blanket tightly around herself and came down to visit the earth. One night, in the middle of winter, near the banks of a river, she came across an old woman who lived alone. The old woman was not frightened to see Mother Moon.

“Come inside,” she said and invited Mother Moon into her home. She was happy to have company. 

Mother Moon noticed that the old woman could not stop shivering and shaking because she was so cold. Mother Moon felt sorry for the old woman and gave her a piece of her golden blanket. The old woman wrapped it around her shoulders. Soon she was warm. 

“Thank you,” she said. “You are very kind.” 

But in the morning, when the old woman saw how beautiful the blanket was, she wanted another piece. She wanted to sew two pieces together to make a bigger blanket for herself. 

So the next night when Mother Moon came down to visit, the old woman told a lie and said that she was still cold. Again, Mother Moon felt sorry for the old woman and gave her a second piece of the beautiful blanket. 

In the morning, the old woman sewed the two pieces together, but she was greedy and wanted even more. Before Mother Moon came to visit on the third night, the old woman hid her blanket. She covered it well so that the golden light would not shine from her house. Then, she told Mother Moon another lie. She said that the blanket had been stolen and now she was very, very cold. 

Mother Moon felt so sad. She saw how the poor old woman was shivering in the night air. So Mother Moon gave the old woman the last little piece of the blanket she had left. Now, Mother Moon did not shine at all. She said goodbye to the old woman, wished her well and left. 

After a few days the people in the nearby village began to worry. They could no longer see in the dark. There had been no moonlight for so long that they decided to find out why. They lit lanterns and began to search. They searched for hours until they were so tired and thirsty that they stopped to rest on the banks of a river. 

As they rested, they heard a woman crying. When they looked around, they found Mother Moon. No light shone from her and she looked sad. 

“What has made you so unhappy?” they asked. “And how can we help you?” 

Mother Moon told them about her beautiful blanket and how it used to shine brightly in the night sky. She also told them how she loved to visit the earth and about the old woman who had been cold. “I cannot take the blanket back,” said Mother Moon. “The poor woman has nothing to keep her warm. But without my blanket, I cannot light up the night sky.” And she started to cry again. 

“We will help you,” said the villagers. “Come with us. We will find the old woman and talk to her.” 

They did not have to search long for the old woman’s house because the blanket shone so brightly from the inside. They called loudly until the old woman came outside. 

When the old woman saw Mother Moon standing in the darkness with tears on her cheeks, she felt ashamed for being so selfish. Without a word she gave the blanket back. The people quickly wrapped Mother Moon in her blanket, and as it touched her, it started to glow even brighter than before. 

“Before you go back to the night sky,” they said, “please tell us how to punish the old woman.” 

Mother Moon thought about this for a long while and then she said, “No, do not punish her. I would rather teach her how to share.” 

Mother Moon unpicked a thick thread from the bottom of her blanket and gave it to the old woman. “When you are cold,” she told the old woman, “pull on this thread, and then you will know what to do next.” And with that Mother Moon went back into the night sky leaving a trail of golden thread behind her. 

From that day on, Mother Moon has stayed in the night sky, shining brightly. And from that day on, once a month, when the old woman starts to feel cold, she pulls on the golden thread. She pulls and pulls gathering more and more thread to weave a golden blanket. As she does this, Mother Moon’s blanket in the sky comes undone and gets smaller and smaller until it shines no more. Then, when the old woman is warm enough, she gives thanks and lets Mother Moon take back all the thread bit by bit. Then Mother Moon weaves it until her blanket is whole again and shines brightly in the night sky. 

And that is why, every month, the moon gets smaller and bigger. That is how it has been from that day to this.