Night had fallen on the New Year’s Eve, a bitterly cold night. The snow had been falling all evening
and the house tops and trees were laden heavy with snow. A blanket of snow covered the ground.
Everything was white and cold.
No one was seen along the streets which lay silent and empty, except for one small ragged figure of a
little girl. She was out in the cold trying to sell matches, but not a single person had bought matches
from her that day.
She was tired and her feet had turned blue with the cold. She had no shoes on and her feet felt frozen.
She shivered as she walked because her dress was too tattered to keep the cold out. She sat down in
a corner where the wind was less strong.
It was the season of celebration. Christmas was just over and the following day was the New Year. Lights
shone from windows and music could be heard. The smell of delicious food came to the little match girl.
‘If only I were warm,’ she thought, ‘I should light one little matchstick.’ She lit one and in its glow she imagined a warm fireplace. But the matchstick fizzled out!
She struck one more matchstick. In the flame she saw a table laden with food! There were a stuffed
turkey, Christmas puddings and cakes, fruits and milk and cream! It was as if she could taste the food.
But the matchstick flickered out!
In the cold and the dark street, she lit another matchstick. This time she could see a Christmas tree, beautifully decorated with the streams of tinsel and ribbons, candles and baubles, and a star! The tree was glowing.
She reached out to touch the Christmas tree, but the matchstick went out. The tree vanished.
Suddenly, she saw a light flashing across the sky. It was a shooting star!
‘Grandma had told me that when someone dies, a star falls to show that he is now in heaven!’
thought the little girl, as she watched the star.
“I think I’ll light another matchstick!” she whispered. The matchstick scraped against the wall and lit up.
In the glow, she saw her Grandma standing before her, gently smiling at her.
”Grandma!” exclaimed the little girl, “Have you come to take me with you? You won’t vanish like the other
things, will you? The stove and its warmth, the delicious food and that wonderful Christmas tree
”Don’t go, Grandma!” she pleaded as she lit one matchstick after another. She was trying hard to
keep the light and its glow there so that Grandma might not vanish!
Every time the matchstick had burnt out, the vision had vanished. But now, she could still see Grandma
standing before her reaching out her arms lovingly to her. She stood in the glow of the little flames from the matchstick.
Grandma was just as she had always remembered her gentle and kind and smiling. The matchsticks
were finishing, but just then, Grandma reached out to hug her warmly.
Grandma held the little match girl in her arms. It was not cold any more. They flew right past the
snowfall and the clouds, past the darkness towards the stars high up into the sky. The little match girl was not lonely or frightened now. She felt safe and warm in her Grandma’s arms!
The houses and the streets, the cold and wind and snow were all far away now as they floated up.
In the morning, people came out of their houses. It was the New Year. They all were wishing one another
as they met. Then some of them stopped near the corner where a small match girl lay in her
ragged dress. She had died in the cold but there was a little smile on her face!
They saw her curled up near the wall in her tattered dress with her bare feet. All around her lay the
burnt-out matchsticks. “Poor little girl!” someone said, “She must have been so cold and tried to keep warm burning those matchsticks!” But none could explain why there was a smile on her face. They all wondered about it. They didn’t know that she was warm and safe with her Grandmother among the stars!