The Little Match Girl

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The Little Match Girl
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My Interest

It was New Year’s Eve and dreadfully cold. The snow fell quickly in the darkening light as evening came on. In the cold and the darkness, there walked along the street a poor little girl, bareheaded and with no shoes on. When she left home she had slippers on, it is true, but they were much too large for her feet. Her mother had used those slippers till then, but the poor little girl lost them running across the street when two carriages were passing quickly by. When she looked for them, one was not to be found, and a boy grabbed the other and ran away with it.

So on the little girl went with her bare feet, that were red and blue with cold. In an old apron that she wore she had bundles of matches and she also carried a bundle in her hand. No one had bought so much as a bunch all long day and no one had given her even a penny.

Poor little girl! Shivering with cold and hunger she crept along, feeling miserable.

The snowflakes fell on her long hair, which hung in pretty curls about her neck, but she did not think of her beauty or of the cold. Lights shone from every window, and she could smell the beautiful smell of roast goose being cooked for New Year’s Eve in all the houses. She could not stop thinking about it.

In a corner between two houses, she sat down. She tucked her little feet in underneath herself, but still she grew colder and colder. She did not dare to go home, as she had not sold any matches and could not bring any money. Her father would certainly would not be pleased. Besides, it was cold enough at home, as they had only a roof above them that was full of holes.

Little Match Girl sees through the wall into room inside

Now her little hands were nearly frozen with cold. She thought that maybe a match might warm her fingers if she lit it. So at last she drew one out. She struck it and how it blazed and burned! It gave out a warm, bright flame like a little candle, as she held her hands over it. A wonderful little light it was. It really seemed to the little girl as if she sat in front of a great iron stove with a lovely fire inside it. So nicely it burned that the little girl stretched out her feet to warm them. How comfortable she was! But then the flame went out, the stove vanished, and nothing remained but the little burned match in her hand.

She rubbed another match against the wall. It burned brightly, and where the light fell on the wall she could suddenly see right through it into the room. A snow-white cloth was spread upon the table, on which were laid beautiful china plates, while a stuffed roast goose cooked away and made a most delicious smell. And what was more delightful still, and wonderful, the goose jumped from the dish, with knife and fork still in its breast, and waddled along the floor straight towards the little girl.

But the match went out then, and nothing was left to her but the thick, damp wall.

She lit another match. And now she was under a most beautiful Christmas tree, larger and far more prettily decorated than the one she had seen through the glass doors at the rich merchant’s. Hundreds of candles were burning on the green branches, and little painted figures, like she had seen in shop windows, looked down on her. The child stretched out her hands to them, but then the match went out.

Still the lights of the Christmas tree burned higher and higher into sky until she saw one fall,, forming a long trail of fire.

“Now some one is dying,” murmured the child softly, for her grandmother, the person who had loved her the most, and who was now dead, had told her that whenever a star falls a soul goes up to heaven.

She struck yet another match against the wall. It lit and in its brightness her dear old grandmother appeared before her, beaming love and kindness.

“Oh, grandmother,” cried the child, “take me with you. I know you will go away when the match burns out. You, too, will vanish, like the warm stove, the splendid New Year’s feast, the beautiful Christmas tree.” And to make sure her grandmother would not disappear, she lit a whole bundle of the matches against the wall.

And they burned with such a brilliant light that it became brighter than the midday sun. Her grandmother had never looked so grand and beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms and both flew joyfully together, climbing higher and higher, far above the earth, away from cold and hunger, to heaven.

They found her the next morning, leaning against the wall, with red cheeks and smiling mouth—frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. “She wanted to warm herself, the poor little thing,” people said. “I wonder why she looks so happy?” some people asked. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, or how happily she had gone with her grandmother into the new year.

Please rate this story from 1 to 10 stars. 10 stars means you really liked it!
Rating: 8.34/10. From 2214 votes.
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- Total nr. of readings: 193,445 Copyright © The author [2020] All Rights Reserved. This story may not be reproduced without the express written permission of the author except for personal use.

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56 thoughts on “The Little Match Girl

  1. Alejandra

    So I loved this story. It was so thoughtful. I keep on reading this story because of eSpark, but I actually don’t care. I don’t care that it keeps on giving me this story because I love how the little match girl was able to see her grandmother even though she was gone. I also love how the little match girl passed away smiling because she saw her grandmother. If I could rate this from 1 to infinity, I would rate it infinity. Thank you for this story!!!!!!

  2. Alejandra

    So I loved this story. It was so thoughtful. I keep on reading this story because of eSpark, but I actually don’t care. I don’t care that it keeps on giving me this story because I love how the little match girl was able to see her grandmother even though she was gone. I also love how the little match girl passed away smiling because she saw her grandmother. If I could rate this from 1 to infinity, I would rate it infinity.

  3. Alejandra

    So this was my first time reading this story and I LOVED it!!! It was amazing because she was able to see her grandmother, even though she was gone. “Little Match Girl” meant so much to me. I love this story!!!❤❤❤

  4. Dennis

    I read it for the first time about two months ago at 65 years old. I was so caught up in the story, the fantasy, having no idea where it was going. The end surprised me . I had to read it twice, so sad, so many tears. Today I read it again. Almost right away knowing how it ends a flood of tears. Such a simple short story has never moved me so much. The way Hans Christian Anderson writes has me thinking about the way Keith Morison on the TV show Dateline weaves his storytelling

  5. Elvin

    This story always brings me great pain and tears knowing that there are countless real-life little match girls out there, some not freezing to death but getting abused by human traffickers etc. I wonder how humans can go extreme in their religious or political beliefs but seem to easily shy away from helping others. Sometimes it really makes me so angry and frustrated when affluent people seem to have numbed themselves up from extreme poverty right in their backyards.

  6. Navin kumar

    This story is very beautiful.I remember 5 years ago my teacher read me this story one evining,when I stayed at his home due to heavy rain.Today when I saw a girl selling corn at station,the story came in my mind after 5 yrs….
    The ending is really very painful,but if she didn’t died,then she would have to live in world which will give her more pain…

  7. Nikhil

    This story first came across to me when I was in 10th STD (in English syllabus). How impossible it was to shade the tears in front of the whole class. Since then even after 24 years whenever I raed this story, I encounter the same situation!
    Hats off to Hans Christian Anderson!

  8. Christina

    I remember reading this when I was around 9 years old, it brought tears to my eyes that I tried to hide from my classmates, (we were all reading different books)
    Must be one of the only children’s stories that I’ve remembered for so long…
    Still brought a tear to my eye nearly two decades later.
    Absolute timeless classic.

  9. Beatrice

    the comment about the three-year-old has me deaddddddddddd!!!!!!!! The story is really depressing! OML!

      1. Alejandra

        Beatrice and Nancy, why are we talking about Shrek and Rodick? It is pretty silly. But just to let you know Spongebob Squarepants is the one we are going to talk about because he is sily and better than Shrek and Rodrick. LOL!!!

  10. Aadi Anwesha

    This is a nyc story ……..i loved it but i was emotional at the end……girls used to love their father a lot as he is tge only man on whom u can trust blindly bt in this story the gilr is abused by her father only at this tender age in which a kid gets lot of love n affection ………she was ill treated by her father n was beaten too ………..the story also potrays a realistic n crude view of the society in Victorian era…..
    Bt this is a vry nyc story …………….

  11. Ketaki

    I was reading this story with my 6 yr old but when we came to the end I didn’t have the heart to let her read it. So I changed the story ending. I told her that the next day people awaken her and send her home. Disappointed that grandma has gone again she goes back home to find the stove, the feast and the Christmas tree in her house and grandma waiting to hug her. The matches were magical and hence God made it happen that none got sold and she got to use their magic

    1. Brian Martin

      Nice ending and very understandable Ketaki, especially with the very young. It’s such a classic story I was afraid I could not edit it to make a happier ending, but if I had done it would ended similar to yours!
      For a happier retelling of the story, check out Jan Fenimore’s version here:

      1. Elli

        It’s always beautiful amazing story house he was trying to sell some matches and each time she let one by one she would see and image of happiness she died happy knowing her grandmother came and took her with her in heaven God bless the little Match girl ☦️

  12. Khushi

    This story is very good and heartfelt as my five year old sister says, I too enjoyed this little tale, it shows lovely magic and the sad omens poor people face

      1. Brenda

        I read this aged 8, sixty years ago. It made me cry then and still does. I wouldn’t read it to my grandchildren as I wouldn’t want them to see me upaet.

  13. Preeti

    the story is wonderful… but i would not like to tell my 3 yr old about starvation and death.. I think this should be meant for older kids..

    1. Brian

      Thanks Preeti for the feedback. You are right, after I saw your comment I noticed that the story was missing its age-range tags. I have now changed that so it won’t appear in searches for stories for kids in that age range. Hans Christian Andersen had a dark side alright, and some of his stories are not on the site as they are not really suitable. This is such a classic though, it had to be included.
      Thanks again for your feedback on the story and pointing that out.


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