The Two Pine Cones
A Laplander wizard was making his way through the countryside in Finland. He came to a small village as night was setting on the town. “I wish I had a nice warm place to lay my head,” he thought. “Perhaps I could sit by someone’s fire and be given a little something to eat, then spend the night comfortably resting by the fire.
He came to a small log cabin as he walked. He almost knocked on the door, but he heard the laughter of children inside. “I cannot stop here,” he thought. These people scarcely have enough for themselves. I cannot ask them to share what they have with me.”
The wizard walked on until he saw a large home that was far too big for the couple that lived in it. Is should not be a problem for them to give him a small something to eat and to allow him to sleep by the fireplace. He knocked on the door. First there was no answer. Then after he knocked again. Then he heard a rough old voice, “What do you want? What are you doing here? Go away! We don’t want strangers at our door.”
The wizard answered, “I came not to bother you, but to ask for you take me in for the night. Please, can you share a little something to eat and let me sleep by your fire?”
“No, go away. I have no room for beggars said the old woman who lived inside. Go away now, or I will turn loose my dogs on you.”
The Wizard had no choice. He left the door of the wealthier woman and walked back to the little log cabin. He knocked on the door and heard pleasant tones of voices coming to the door. A kind man and his kinder wife welcomed him in. They had little to eat, but they still gave him what they had. They shared their evening meal with him and gave him one of the children’s beds to sleep in, taking the child to their own bed for the night.
When the wizard left the next morning, he tried to give the woman the ring off his finger to thank her. She refused and said it was her duty to help the less fortunate. So he pulled a pine cone out of his pocket and handed it to her. “Take this,” he said. “Hang it in your window, and may it help you prosper in the first thing you do today.” Then he left and walked down the road.
The woman smiled and hung the pine cone in the window to look at while she worked. She began to measure the linen she had made the day before to see how much cloth she had woven the way before. There seemed to be no end to the cloth. She measured and measured and measured. From morning to sunset, she measured more and more cloth. There was enough cloth to make all the clothing she needed for entire family and enough cloth for their needs for years. There was enough cloth to take to the market and sell for enough money to keep the family for years and years.
The story of the poor family’s good fortune reached the ears of the rich woman who had first turned the beggar away. She sent out her servants to look high and low for the Wizard. “That money should have been mine,” she thought. Her servants could not find the man. But as nature would allow, a year later the Wizard again came by the village. The rich woman saw him and grabbed him by the arm. “You MUST stay at my house tonight,” she said as she rudely shook his arm. She fed him supper and let him sleep by the fireplace as he had asked before.
When the Wizard left in the morning, he tried to pay her, but she refused. “How about a pine cone to hang in my window?” she asked. She already had a pile of gold sitting on the table by the window. She had put it there a year ago after the heard about the good fortune of the poor woman. She planned to count gold over and over from morning until sunset in order to have more gold than she could ever spend.
The Wizard gave her a pine cone out of his pocket. Hang this in your window, and may you do the first thing you do from morning to night.
The woman reached for the first coin, but as the picked it up the dust made her sneeze. “Achoo,” she said, and reached for her handkerchief to wipe her nose. She reached again for the coin. “Achoo, achoo, achoo….” All through the morning and until the sun set, the woman sneezed and wiped he nose.
Researched and included in The Solstice Evergreen – The History, Folklore and Origins of the Christmas Tree by Sheryl Ann Karas (1998)