Saturday, December 10, 2016

Yet Another Baltic Christmas - Day 10, Tell me a Story!

Today on 24 Days of a Baltic Christmas, a Latvian Christmas story by Margarita Stāraste Barvika, with an introduction by Inga! Without further ado...

Latvians have  folk tales, myths, and stories for just about anything and for any occasion. Christmas is no exception – it is a magical time of the year, when unexplainable events occur, when animals talk, when everyday objects get a life of their own, and the nights hold a magic all their own.  This is one of my favorite Latvian Christmas stories, with the original illustrations. We read this story over and over when our children were young, and have even produced a couple of theatric versions, with wonderful costumes (of potatoes, brooms, floor can imagine)!

Source here
The author and illustrator, Margarita Stāraste Barvika, is a prolific Latvian painter, children's book author and illustrator of about 100 of her own and other authors' books. Born in 1914, she studied art and graduated from the Latvijas Mākslas Akadēmija (Art Academy of Latvia) under the tutelage of some of the most well-known and regarded Latvian painters of the day. She began writing and illustrating children's books in 1942. Her books have been translated into several other languages, among them Polish, Lithuanian, English, German, Russian and Japanese. Several of her books have been the basis for animated films. Barvika died in Latvia in February of 2014 , sixteen days after celebrating her 100th birthday. She received several literary and cultural awards for her work during her lifetime.

Source here
This particular story is from Ziemassvētku pasakas (Christmas stories), first published in 1943; the edition we own re-released by Grāmatu draugs in 1962.

Christmas Night in the Kitchen
(by Margarita Stāraste Barvika)

It was Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve tends to become quite an interesting Christmas night, because often odd, magical, unbelievable and peculiar events take place. And here is the story of what took place on this one particular Christmas night.

The stout cook had removed her holiday apron and left for bed. Suddenly, some very unusual voices could be heard in the kitchen. "Listen!" the large wooden spoon piped up creakily, "every one of us kitchen servants has diligently worked hard throughout the year. It is Christmas Eve, and we deserve some fun!" "Yes, yes!" exclaimed the dish towel, who was hanging on a peg, pale and overworked, "we do need a change of pace!" The bristle broom came forward from her corner and suggested organizing a Christmas party. Everyone immediately agreed, and all the plates' clean, bright faces beamed in delight.

Only the old Dachshund dozing on his blanket by the hearth grumbled in discontent. "Do what you want!" he said, "But be quiet and sensible about it! Don't disturb the peaceful night for me and the people in the household."

The wooden spoon ignored the dog's worries: it wasn't even worth listening to such an old dog with such an old-fashioned point of view, who was constantly grumbling about one thing or another.

Everyone who wanted to have some fun together, maybe even dance a bit, gathered in the center of the kitchen.

Two terra-cotta bowls carefully climbed down from the china shelves, followed by five cheerful cups with delicate flowers painted on their left sides, ten merry plates, three fragile-natured tea glasses, and a white porcelain sugar bowl with a lid. This sugar bowl was quite old, but was in the habit of reminding everyone that his insides – well, those are quite young, as they are renewed twice a week.

The spoons, forks, and knives grew very restless in their drawer. They would have loved to take part in the Christmas festivities, but they were unable to open the heavy drawer in which the cook had imprisoned them. Luckily, the pantry door had been left ajar, and now through it came six smiling young rosy-cheeked apples. A sturdy milk bottle, several many-eyed potatoes, a pleasant carrot, and a small grey sack of groats soon followed.

Last to slowly toddle from the pantry were the pantry's most venerable inhabitants – three large jars of home-made jam. 

Even the logs and kindling sleeping near the hearth got up to join in. Tomorrow morning the cook would feed them to the fire anyway, and that's why they wanted to have as much fun as possible tonight.

But the most joyous of all the kitchen's denizens were the large stock-pot and the old floor rag.

"How nice, that I will finally have a chance to experience a party!" the floor rag whispered in delight, "until now, I have only had to do heavy, dirty work."

"My life is even more difficult and painful than yours!" the stock-pot protested. "Every day I patiently sit and allow my bottom to be scorched, and no one even asks whether it's uncomfortable or too hard to bear. But tonight I will forget my cares and troubles and make merry!"

The stock-pot invited two small crocks to join him, and they amicably moved to the center of the kitchen, where all the carousers had gathered.

"If we want to dance, we need music!" suggested a small, wooden box, full of aromatic linden flower tea.

Shortly, something akin to music could be heard in the kitchen: pots mightily clanging together, the silverware, trapped in the drawer, jumping around in glee, and the fragile tea glasses gently and pleasantly clinking together. The music was awesome, and the dancing began!

The firewood danced bouncing up and down, terra-cotta bowls slowly spun, plates rolled around, the wooden spoon romped all over and the dish towel giddily flapped around and got dizzy. The broom walked here and there every now and then stomping her only leg, the rosy apples played leapfrog and the blushing carrot rolled around on the floor. The potatoes, not being very good dancers, kind of  got in everyone's way.

Even the old dachshund, sleeping on his blanket, opened an eye. He was no longer grumbling, because his dog-heart felt quite warm and generous, seeing how happy everyone else was. And quite accidentally, the old dog's tail began to keep time by thumping on the floor.

Oh, what thrilling music and what a splendid Christmas party!

Only the sugar bowl and the three venerable jam jars from the pantry were being especially careful in their carousing, because they needed to be mindful of their sweet insides. Arms at their sides, smiling, they slowly swayed from side to side. Everyone was dancing and enjoying themselves in their own way, except the very discontented floor rag, who was tossing about all by herself. No one wanted to welcome her into their group because she was damp and did not look very pretty. 

The festivities continued in this manner all night. Towards morning the first mishap occurred: dancing in delight and with great exhuberance, the little grey groat sack had lost its ribbon, the tiny groats spilled all over, and the sack went flat. Now it could not even move, nor get anywhere on its own.

Due to this catastrophe, the Christmas party broke up and was definitely over. There was great agitation and concern, but most anxious of all was the old Dachshund.

"The groats must be put back into the sack immediately, and the ribbon must be retied!" the Dachshund firmly declared.

But there was no one among the carousers who knew how to do such things. Everyone just stood around balefully looking on. No one knew how to save the spilled groats.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, the alarm clock buzzed in the maid's room. The celebration participants started, and began hurrying away as fast as they were able. Everyone needed to be back, each in their correct place, before the maid finished getting dressed – the people in the home did not need to know about the secret Christmas night party at all!

The sturdy milk bottle, the rosy-cheeked apples, and the venerable jam jars marched back into the pantry, followed quickly by the many-eyed potatoes and the good-looking carrot.

The pale dish towel hung himself back on the peg, the firewood stacked itself into a neat pile, and all the plates, cups, bowl, glasses and the aromatic wooden box of linden flower tea all arranged themselves neatly on their shelves.

Even the broom, all the pots, the dejected floor rag and the large wooden spoon hurried back to their customary spots.

Only the old sugar bowl was really unlucky – in a hurry, the bowl knocked into a sharp corner of the hearth, and remained there, broken into tiny shards with sugar spilled all over...

When the maid entered the kitchen, she was left standing with her mouth open in surprise.

Just take a look at her clean and tidy kitchen!  The little grey groat sack lay on the floor with all the groats spilled, and the sugar bowl – the beautiful old sugar bowl was broken to pieces!

The maid became very angry. The only possible culprit responsible for the mess could only be the old Dachshund. Who would have expected this from a dog that old!? He acts so weak and ill that he can hardly move, but look at what he does when no one is watching – climbs up the shelves to get sugar and pulls the groats from the pantry! What an unpleasant dog!

The Dachshund tried to defend himself, humbly wagging his tail and wrinkling his nose. He explained that he could care less about groats or sugar, and that he had nothing to do with anything at all.

But the maid understood nothing of his dog-language. The Dachshund was at fault, that was that, and must receive a spanking. The old dog did not forget this injustice for a very long time. He was in a bad mood and grumbled to himself often for many of the following days.

The old Dachshund firmly resolved to never allow the kitchen residents to repeat such a folly as a Christmas night party, for which he – the innocent dog, had to receive a spanking.

Svētku nakts virtuvē
(Margarita Stāraste Barvika)

ija Ziemassvētku nakts. Un šī nakts mēdz būt dīvaina nakts, jo tad aizvien gadās pavisam neticāmi notikumi. Un tā bija arī šajos Ziemassvētkos.

Kad tuklā virēja bija noraisījusi savu balto svētku priekšautu un aizgājusi gulēt, tad virtuvē sāka skanēt pavisam neparastas balsis. Klausieties!" pavārnīca kokaini pīkstēja, visu gadu mēs, virtuves kalpi, esam centīgi strādājuši. Nu ir Ziemassvētku nakts, un mums arī reiz vajadzētu tā drusku papriecāties!" Jā, jā!" iesaucās trauku dvielis, kas bāls un pārstrādājies karājās pie sienas, mums arī reiz vajadzētu kādu pārmaiņu!" Tad saru slota iznāca no sava kakta un ieteicās, ka vajadzētu sarīkot Ziemassvētku balli. Tam tūliņ visi piekrita, un šķīvju gaišās sejas taisni laistījās no lielas sajūsmas.

Tikai vecais taksis, kas gulēja pie krāsns uz savas sedziņas, neapmierināts ieņurdējās.  Dariet ko gribiet!" viņš teica, bet tikai uzvedieties klusi un prātīgi! Netraucējiet nakts mieru man un cilvēkiem."

Bet pavārnīca tikai atmeta ar roku. Nebija jau nemaz vērts klausīties tādā vecā sunī, kas mūžīgi rūca un kuŗam bija tādi vecmodīgi uzskati.

Un tad virtuves vidū salasījās visi tie, kas gribēja drusku papriecāties un padejot.

No trauku plaukta uzmanīgi nokāpa divas sarkanbrūnas māla bļodas, piecas omulīgas tasītes ar puķītēm uz kreisajiem sāniem, desmit jautri šķīvji, trīs trauslas dabas tējas glāzes un kāds balts porcelāna cukurtrauks ar visu vāku. Šis cukurtrauks bija jau gados krietni pavecs, bet viņš vēl arvien visiem mēdza teikt, ka iekšas – tās gan viņam esot pilnīgi jaunas, jo tās mēdzot atjaunoties divreiz nedēļā.

Karotes, dakšiņas un naži kļuva savā atvilktnē ļoti nemierīgi. Tie visi būtu tik labprāt piedalījušies lielajā Ziemassvētku ballē, bet viņi nekā nespēja atvilkt vaļā smago atvilkni, kuŗā virēja viņus bija ieslodzījusi. Par laimi pieliekamā kambaŗa durvis bija palikušas pievērtas, un nu pa šķirbu laimīgi smaidošām sejām un pietvīkušiem vaigiem izlīda seši apaļi ābolu jaunskungi. Viņiem sekoja padrukna piena pudele, vairāki acaini kartupeļi, viens patīkams burkāns un pelēks putraimu maisiņš.

Beidzamie no pieliekamā kambaŗa lēni izčāpoja trīs resni ievārījumu podi.

Tie bija paši cienījamākie pieliekamā kambaŗa iemītnieki.

Arī malkas pagales, kas gulēja pie krāsns, piecēlās, lai piedalītos ballē, jo rīt jau tā kā tā virēja viņas iebāzīšot ugunī. Tāpēc viņas vēl gribot šonakt tā jautri padzīvot.

Bet no visiem virtuves iemītniekiem vispriecīgākais bija lielais katls un vecā grīdas lupata.

Cik jauki, ka nu reiz es piedzīvošu balli!" grīdas lupata laimīgi čukstēja, līdz šim es esmu strādājusi tikai smagu, netīru darbu."

Mana dzīve ir vēl krietni grūtāka kā tava!" lielais katls iesaucās, katru dienu es pacietīgi atļauju svilināt savu dibenu, un neviens man pat neprasa – vai tas man nav par grūtu. Bet šonakt es aizmirsīšu visas nepatikšanas un būšu jautrs!"

Tad katls paņēma pie rokas divus podiņus un viņi visi draudzīgi aizgāja uz virtuves vidu, kur jau bija salasījušies visi ballinieki.

Bet lai dejotu, tad ir vajadzīga kaut kāda mūzika!" ieteicās kāda maza koka cibiņa, kuŗā smaržoja liepu ziedu tēja.

Un brīdi vēlāk virtuvē tiešām sāka skanēt kaut kas mūzikai līdzīgs: katli sita spēcīgi sānus kopā, dakšiņas un naži atvilknē palēkdamies jauki žvadzēja, un tējas glāzes viena otrai piesizdamās patīkami tinkšķēja. Tā bija varena mūzika, un nu varēja sākt dejot.

Malkas pagales dancoja uz augšu palēkdamās, sarkanbrūnās māla bļodas lēni griezās, šķīvji ripoja, pavārnīca delverēja un dvielis plātījās kā apreibis. Slota staigāja piesizdama savu vienīgo kāju, āboli lēca viens otram pāri, sārtais burkāns vēlās pa grīdu un acainie kartupeļi, nemācēdami labi dejot, maisījās visiem pa vidu.

Arī vecais taksis, gulēdams uz savas sedziņas, pavēra acis. Viņš vairs neņurdēja, jo viņa suņa sirds tīri kā iesila, skatoties kā citi priecājās. Un pavisam neviļus arī vecā takša aste sāka sist pa grīdu taktij līdzi.

Ak, kas tā bija par aizraujošu mūziku un kas tā bija par lielisku balli!

Tikai cukura trauks un trīs cienījamie ievārījuma podi, kas bija iznākuši no pieliekamā kambaŗa, izskatījās savos priekos ļoti lēni un apdomīgi, jo viņiem bija jāpadomā arī par savām saldajām iekšām. Iespieduši rokas sānos viņi smaidīdami lēni šūpojās no vienas puses uz otru. Katram bija sava deja un savs prieks, tikai grīdas lupata bija ļoti neapmierināta un mētājās viena pati. Neviens viņu negribēja ņemt savā pulkā, jo viņa bija vēl mitra un izskatījās ļoti neglīta.

Tā šī balle turpinājās visu nakti. Bet tad uz rīta pusi gadījās liela nelaime: pelēkajam putraimu maisiņam no lielas sajūsmas atgāja vaļā saite, izbira visi sīkie putraimiņi un saplaka viss maisiņa vēders. Nu putraimu maisiņš vairs nevarēja ne pakustēties, ne uz priekšu tikt.

Tā bija milzīga nelaime, un putraimu maisiņa dēļ izjuka visa Ziemassvētku balle. Bija liels uztraukums, bet visvairāk uztraucās vecais taksis.

Putraimi tūliņ jāsabeŗ atpakaļ maisiņā un maisiņam jāaizsien gals!" taksis stingri pavēlēja.

Bet starp balliniekiem nebija neviena, kas tādas lietas prastu. Visi tikai stāvēja un nelaimīgi skatījās. Neviens nezināja, kā saglābt izbirušos putraimus.

Tad pavisam negaidot kalpones istabā sāka tarkšķēt modinātājs. Nu ballinieki tā satrūkās, ka metās prom, cik vien ātri spēdami. Kamēr kalpone ģērbās, tikmēr visiem vajadzēja būt atpakaļ – katram savā vietā, jo cilvēkiem nekas nebija jāzina par slepeno Ziemassvētku nakts balli.

Druknā piena pudele, āboli ar piesarkušiem vaigiem un cienījamie ievārījuma podi iesoļoja atpakaļ pieliekamā kambarī, un pēc tam tur iesteidzās arī visi acainie kartupeļi un glītais burkāns.

Bālais dvielis pakārās uz vadža, pagales sakrāvās kārtīgi kaudzē, un visi šķīvji, tasītes, bļodas, glāzes un cibiņa ar liepu ziedu tēju sakārtojās savos plauktos.

Arī slota, katli, skumjā grīdas lupata un pavārnīca aizsteidzās uz savām parastajām vietām.

Tikai vecam cukura traukam šoreiz nelaimējās – viņš lielajā steigā uzdrāzās krāsns stūrim un palika tur guļot, saplīsis smalkos gabalos un izbārstījis visu savu cukuru...

Kad virtuvē ienāca kalpone, tad viņa no lielā pārsteiguma palika stāvam ar vaļā muti.

Kāda gan izskatījās viņas tīrā un kārtīgā virtuve! Uz grīdas gulēja pelēkā putraimu kulīte un no tās bija izbiruši visi putraimiņi, un cukura trauks – vecais skaistais cukura trauks bija saplēsts!

Kalpone nu kļuva ļoti dusmīga. Vainīgs te varot būt vienīgi vecais taksis. Kas gan to būtu varējis domāt no tāda suņa! Tā viņš izliekoties tik slims un vārgs, ka ne pakustēties nevarot, bet, lūk, ko viņš darot ja neviena neesot klāt: kāpjot plauktā pēc cukura un izvelkot putraimu maisiņu no pieliekamā kambaŗa! Tādu nejauku suni!

Taksis gan mēģināja taisnoties padevīgi luncinādam asti un degunu raustīdams.

Viņš teica, ka cukurs un putraimi tam esot pilnīgi vienaldzīgi un, ka viņš pie visa tā nemaz neesot vainīgs.

Bet kalpone neko nesaprata no tādas valodas. Vecajam taksim bija jāpaliek par vainīgo un jāsaņem pēriens. Bet šo netaisno pārestību taksis vēl ilgi nevarēja aizmirst. Viņš vēl bieži pie sevis rūca un bija ļoti sapīcis.

Taksis cieši apņēmās nekad vairs virtuves iemītniekiem neatļaut rīkot tādu tik neprātīgu balli, par ko viņam – nevainīgam sunim beigās jāsaņem pēriens.

And that is the tale of Christmas night in the kitchen... Thank you Inga, for your research on the author and work translating what is one of the favorite children's Christmas stories of my childhood! Inga has previously joined us with pīrāgu and piparkūku recipes, and with this post on puzuri - if you haven't already, make sure to take a look. Personally, this is a post that I'll be bookmarking to read with the boys one evening, as we don't have the book. I hope you'll join us tomorrow for a snowy winter's excursion on Day 11 of the 24 Days of a Baltic Christmas!


  1. Instantaneous flashbacks to the costumes we had at Latvian school for our dramatic recreations of this story! No one wanted to be the floor rag...

    1. You remember?! I must have blocked out the memory as a traumatic childhood experience 😂

    2. Of course no one wants to be a damp floor rag... Liene - you were great as the sugar bowl: you broke into pieces very dramatically!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...