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Main > Dutch folktales > Fairy tale "Why the stork loves Holland"

Why the stork loves Holland

Beginning his hunt, he soon has enough frogs, mice, grubs, worms or insects to make a good meal. It is because this bird feels so much at home, in town and country, making part of the landscape, that we so associate together Holland and the stork, as we usually do.

The Dutch proverb pictures the scene, which is so common. "In the same field, the cow eats grass; the grayhound hunts the hare; and the stork helps himself to the frogs." Indeed, if it were not for the stork, Holland would, like old Egypt, in the time of Moses, be overrun with frogs.

The Dutch call the stork by the sweet name "Ooijevaar," or the treasure-bringer. Every spring time, the boys and girls, fathers and mothers, shout welcome to the white bird from Egypt.

"What do you bring me?" is their question or thought.

If the bird deserts its old home on their roof, the family is in grief, thinking it has lost its luck; but if Daddy Stork, with Mrs. Stork's approval, chooses a new place for their nest, there is more rejoicing in that house, than if money had been found. "Where there are nestlings on the roof, there will be babies in the house," is what the Dutch say; for both are welcome.

To tell why the stork loves Holland, we must go back to the Africa of a million years ago. Then, we shall ask the Dutch fairies how they succeeded in making the new land, in the west, so popular in the stork world. For what reason did the wise birds emigrate to the cold country a thousand miles away? They were so regular and punctual, that a great prophet wrote:

"Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times."

Ages ago, there were camels and caravans in Africa, but there was no Holland, for the land was still under the waves. In India, also, the stork was an old bird, that waded in the pools and kept the frogs from croaking in terms of the multiplication table. Sometimes the stork population increased too fast and some went hungry for food; for, the proverb tells us that a stork "died while waiting for the ocean to dry, hoping to get a supply of dried fish.

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