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Snow on the Hilltop

Snow on the Hilltop

Snow on the Hilltop

Here's a “numbskull” tale about people who are transfixed by the beauty of their snow-covered town.  Since folktale motifs translate easily from one geographical or cultural setting to another, one could imagine this tale being adapted to a southern setting.  Maybe an episode of the Andy Griffith show?

A snowstorm is so rare an event in Alabama that BSC students always make the most of it.  Alumni from the late ‘60s to the mid-‘90s have reported that cafeteria trays make respectable, impromptu  sleds at such times.

Once, they say, snow fell in the land of the numbskulls.  The people of Chelm peeped through the windows and through the doors and looked at the snow which fell in their country.  Finally they said: --How beautiful the snow is! It is a pity to step on it and to spoil it and make it dirty, for it will not stay for ever so beautiful and clean!—Therefore they decided to look at the snow and not walk on it.

SleddingSuddenly, however, it occurred to them that the beadle would have to step on the snow when he went from house to house to call the people to prayer, and he would spoil the snow and the beauty.  So they thought and thought what to do in order to prevent the beadle from spoiling and dirting the snow.  Finally, they decided among themselves that four people from the onlookers should go and lift the beadle on their shoulders and go with him from house to house to wake up everyone for the prayer, and so the beadle would not spoil the beautiful snow.  And so they did: four people of Chelm lifted the beadle.

Jason, Heda.  “Jewish-Near Eastern Numbskull Tales: an Attempt at Interpretation.”  Asian Folklore Studies  Vol. 31, No. 1 (1972): pp. 1-39.

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