The Twelve Months

the twelve monthsThis folktale is another “Cinderella style” story. However, there are some interesting differences compared to similar versions. Instead of a helpful fairy, she is assisted by the Gods of the twelve months of the year. And the story doesn’t end with her marrying a handsome prince and living an easy life in a palace. She falls in love with a kind man and the two of them have a happy and peaceful life together taking care of her family farm. As nice as it seems, this is not what most people would call a “fairytale” ending!

English Learner Vocabulary Help

The words and expressions in our Simplified English story which are not in our Pre-Intermediate Level 1200 word list are: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

General Comments on the Story

the key of goldBecause of the spread of the Slavic people in ancient times, you will also find this story in collections of Greek and Russian folktales. Our source was a book called The Key of Gold: 23 Czech Folktales by Josef Baudis, first published in 1922. The only free online source appears to be here. An audiobook version is available from LibriVox here. The book comes with a warning: “Not your common fairy tales. This is not a book for children, but one for adults who love fairy tales, and enjoy making fun of them.”


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(adj: Slavic) Of the people of eastern Europe and Asian Russia who speak a Slavonic language. (เกี่ยวกับชาวสลาฟ) 12000

apron(n: apron pl aprons) A piece of cloth worn over the front of the body over clothes to keep them from getting dirty. 5000

bunch(n: bunch pl bunches) A group of things of the same kind that are held or tied together or that grow together. A bunch of bananas; a bunch of flowers; a bunch of grapes; a bunch of keys. 3000

club(n: club pl clubs) 1. A heavy wooden stick used as a weapon. 2. A group of people who meet to participate in an activity or a place where such people meet. 1000

dare(v: dare, dares, dared, daring) To not be too afraid or shy to do something. (2000)
I dare you to. Used to ask someone to do something you think they may be afraid to do.
Don't you dare! Used to forcefully tell someone not to do something.
How dare you! Used to show someone that you are angry about what they have done or said.

delicious(adj: delicious) Having a very nice taste or smell. 6000

doorstep(n: doorstep pl doorsteps) A step leading to up to one of the doors that is used to enter or leave a building. 3000

flame(n: flame pl flames) The hot, yellow colored gas that can be seen when a fire is burning. 3000

fresh(adj: fresh, fresher, freshest) 1. [of food] Newly made, gathered, arrived; not frozen, canned, etc. 2. [of air] clean and pure, coming from the outdoors. 2. [of people etc] healthy; not tired. 3. [of weather etc] cool; refreshing. 4. [of water] without salt. 5. another; different; not already used, begun, worn, heard etc. a fresh piece of paper; fresh news 2000

(v: gather, gathers, gathered, gathering) To bring [things or people] together into a group; to collect or get. 2000

mustache(n: mustache pl mustaches; British moustache) The hair on the upper lip of a man. 5000

punish(v: punish, punishes, punished, punishing) To make someone suffer for a crime or for something done that is wrong.
(n: punishment pl punishments) The act or way of making someone suffer for a crime or for something done that is wrong. 3000

shake(v: shake, shakes, shook, shaken, shaking) To move back and forth or up and down with short, quick movements. (สั่น) 2000

(n: stepmother pl stepmothers) A woman who has married your father after the death or divorce of your mother. (แม่เลี้ยง) 10000

strawberry(n: strawberry pl strawberries) A small, soft, juicy red fruit that grows on a low plant with white flowers. (ผลสตรอเบอรี่) 5000

thunder(n: thunder, noncount) The loud, deep rumbling sound that follows a flash of lightning during a storm. (ฟ้าร้อง)
(v: thunder, thunders, thundered, thundering) To make a very loud, deep noise. (ส่งเสียงดังคล้ายเสียงฟ้าร้อง) 3000

violet(n: violet pl violets) A plant that has small bluish-purple or white flowers. (ต้นไวโอเล็ต)
(adj: violet) A bluish-purple color. (สีม่วง) 5000

This radio theater series ran on the CBS network from March 1934 until October 1954. The show presented hundreds of fairytales, and for lesser-known ones the story was often changed to an American setting. Quite a few changes were made to The Twelve Months in order to do this. The show always began with a characteristic jingle from its sponsor, Cream of Wheat breakfast cereal. We have left this in at the beginning of the recording for atmosphere, but have edited out the childish talk by the announcers that follows it. The quality of the recording is not great, but this is still a wonderful example of children’s entertainment in the days before TV. To download the mp3, click here.

We were delighted to find another (edited) version of the story on the music artist community website www.soundclick.com. This is a very good quality recording by the American family band VMP, who refer to it as a ‘classic Russian folktale’. Interestingly, this story was also apparently put together for CBC, but this time in January 2010 for a Music Of Russia Anniversary Celebration. Something I particularly like are two short short original musical passages which the band say were designed to capture the ‘experimental spirit of the pre-Stalin art set’. To download the mp3, click here.

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