A family of elves lived in the middle of the forest under the roots of a huge oak tree. Elves arrange their routines and rituals according to the four seasons; spring, summer, autumn and winter. They learned this from their parents, who had learned it from their parents, and so on. Now they were passing it on to their children.
Each season offered something very special and so the change of seasons was always celebrated amongst the community of forest dwellers.
They would prepare a big table with seasonal items and delicacies and the young elves would help search for decorations which were gathered in nature. Autumn was coming and there would be acorns, chestnuts, beautiful twigs and colorful leaves, as well as crisp apples and juicy pears.
In autumn, the whole forest changes colors, a little bit each day. Some leaves turn from a rich green to a bright yellow, while others turn a deep shade of red. Eventually, some of them turn brown and fall from the trees.
A heavy rain storm could bring down hundreds more of the colorful leaves, and eventually, the forest floor would be covered in a soft layer of mulch. That’s how the elves would know that winter was not far off.
Before autumn began, the elves had a lot to do. They gathered berries and made juices and jam to have throughout the winter. They collected delicious mushrooms and dried and stowed them away.
They picked the last beautiful flowers in the meadows and put them in a press made of wooden discs. These were for the upcoming lantern festival, a highlight in the forest community.
The days were becoming noticeably shorter and often the family sat around the big table by candlelight with tea and crispy pastries. They would keep busy by knitting, sewing, and crocheting. They made hats, scarves, gloves and socks to keep warm as the weather got cooler.
The children also worked on their lanterns. They each tried to make their lantern the most beautiful by gluing an arrangement of dried flowers and leaves on it. When they were finished decorating, they attached them to sticks and placed a candle inside.
When the lantern festival finally arrived, you could see a long line of young elves and other forest dwellers gathered with their glowing lanterns.
They walked together happily through the forest. Some of them sang songs. Almost the whole forest was lit up with beautiful lanterns.
An owl who was just waking up said, “Where did all these fireflies come from?”
Some of the nearby forest dwellers giggled and explained, “Dear owl, did you forget? Today is the lantern parade! Come with us, we’ll light your way!”
And so the procession went on as more forest dwellers joined in. A splendor of radiant lights shone throughout the forest.
The elders had lit a fire in a large harvested field at the edge of the forest. When the parade arrived, everyone stood in a big circle around the warm fire and sang lantern songs. The children swayed their lanterns to the beat.
When the fire grew dim and the first lanterns started burning out, they all noticed a pleasant aroma in the air. An old badger and a bunch of elves were serving a big basket of freshly baked bread rolls.
“Hmm, these are the most delicious bread rolls I have ever eaten,” said a little fox. The others agreed. Everyone wanted to know the recipe so the badger promised to write it down for them.
The youngest elves grew tired. They were celebrating the lantern festival for the first time and it was a big day. Meanwhile the older ones well knew that winter would be here again very soon and that the rhythmic change of seasons would go on and on.