Interesting facts 

Where the Poor Souls could warm up

In the Aletsch valley, near the glacier, there was once an old black wooden house, which had been inhabited by a pious old widow. She prayed a lot for the poor souls in the Aletsch glacier. During the long winter nights, when she diligently spun in the glow of a night lamp, she prayed almost constantly for the deceased, and left the house door unlocked, so that the poor souls could enter into the old, heated room and warm themselves up.

But for this entrance they needed her permission, which she gave them only when she went to bed. Then she opened a window, and shouted out with a chocked voice, "Now, but harmless to me," let a little light burn, and went to bed. Soon the house door, then the room door opened like through a cool wind. Countless, barely audible footsteps tripped and trampled in as if a huge crowd was thronging into the room and around the warm stove. Towards the ringing for prayer, the same sound was audible again out the door.

Once upon a time, the widow stayed up longer than usual and spun busily, and outside it was very cold. Suddenly a shout could be heard clearly in front of the window: "Schoch (which means, it makes cold, we freeze), the old Schmidtja (so the woman was called) is still spinning!" "I know well," she replied, I only want to spin this coil of tow”. "But it did not take long before it shouted again, “We're cold, but old Schmidja is still spinning!” Then the widow got inpatient: “If you can't bear to wait till I have finished, come in.” But in her haste she forgot to add: “but harmless to me!”.

Then the house and the room door, opened as if driven by a strong gust of wind, and the footsteps of the invisible evening guests were so numerous and the rustling around lasted so long, it seemed without an end. She became so frightened that she felt like she was choking by heat. She could not get away from the spinning wheel, so crowded was the room of poor souls. She considered it as a punishment, because she had left the deceased in the cold for so long.

When the compassionate old Schmidtja was at her last gasp, and the orderlies said to each other, «What will the poor souls now shout when their friend is dead?» There sounded loudly in the silence of the night in front of the windows: «Schoch, the old Schmidtja is still alive!». The dying woman still made signs that she was happy about this voice and then gave up her mind.

At the same moment the orderlies saw a strong light in front of the windows. As they looked out, they saw a long procession of burning lights, which were moving from her house as far as to the glacier, and how they had gone out one by one when they reached the ice. “Those are the poor dead souls with the lamps that Schmidja left burning for them. And now they are accompanying their friend. – Yes, old Schmidja is still alive!”