"The Little Match Girl" (originally titled: "Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne" meaning "The little girl with the matchsticks") is Hans Christian Andersen
's short story about a dying child's hallucinations at New Year's Eve. First published in 1845, it has been adapted into different media such as a Disney
short and a Made-for-TV Movie
. While technically a New Years story, it works at any time during the winter.
On a cold New Year's Eve, a little girl freezes barefoot outside with nothing but the matches she sells to keep her warm, afraid to return home without selling them. She looks into the window of the house she sits in front of, and pictures how nice it would be to celebrate with a family. The girl strikes her matches one by one, first trying to derive warmth, and then to see the beautiful images their light provides. She looks up and sees a shooting star, and recalls that her grandmother once told her that whenever a star streaks across the sky like that, a person goes to heaven. She lights all of her matches and it's as if she can celebrate with her grandmother right there, and on New Year's Day all that's left is her frozen body huddled against the building, smiling.
The full English translation can be found here
, and the Disney short can be found here
. There was also a 1977 Toei anime adaptation. Additionally, there was a French silent film that can be found here
. The adaptation differs from the original, though. It has also been adapted as an audiobook with slideshow here
For a very similar story with a little boy, see Fyodor Dostoevsky's A Child at Christ's Christmas Party
, written thirty years later.
Tropes in "The Little Match Girl":