Christmas Morning of the Dead
On a farm in Skåne, the maid Karna Jönsdotter worked. She lived in a small cottage next to the farm and had been given a clock by the farmer that would help her get up on time in the mornings. But sometimes that clock didn't work as it should and of course Karna was late for work. One year on Christmas morning itself, the clock stopped. Karna eventually woke up on her own, but when she noticed that the clock had stopped, she realized that she could surely be late. Arriving late for the Christmas lottery when the whole village was in church was, of course, terribly embarrassing. So she immediately dressed and went to church. Better to be out too early than too late.
As she feared, she appeared to be late. The church was lit and she could hear the people inside singing. In any case, she was going to make an attempt to sneak in before the hymn ended. Maybe no one would notice. When she looked into the church, it was packed with people, but she saw an empty seat right by the aisle. With her head down, she hurried forward and stood among the others. Then the hymn ended and everyone sat down. The priest stepped into the pulpit and began his Christmas sermon. But the priest was a man Karna had never seen before. He also looked terribly pale and his eyes shone with the same pale glow as the full moon. She turned to the woman she was sitting next to to ask what was going on in the church. But then she saw that the woman was her aunt, who had been dead for over ten years!
"What are you doing here??" the aunt wondered. “You can't be here. This is the Yule Lotta of the Dead, held early in the night, before the Yule Lotta of the Living. If the dead come upon you, they will tear you to pieces. You must leave immediately!” Karna didn't make a sound, but the aunt nudged her. "Running! Run for your life!" the aunt hissed. "And throw off your coat on the floor of the church entrance!"
Then Karna stood up and the bench creaked so that all the dead, whose backs she had seen so far, turned and stared at her with their hideous faces. Karna turned and rushed towards the entrance and she could hear all the dead rise up and come running after her on clattering, dry bones.
As she stepped over the threshold of the church, she threw off her coat, while he felt bony fingers grasping her hair. Then she rushed straight home without looking back. As soon as she got inside the door of her cottage, she put steel crosswise on the threshold, because that's what one should do to keep the supernatural powers away. Then she collapsed on her bed and lay there in severe illness for three whole weeks.
When the people of the village came to the Christmas lottery, they found a gray pile of dirt at the entrance to the church. It was Karna's coat that the dead had clawed at. Had she not thrown it off, as her aunt had said, it would have been herself lying there.
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