Good Stories for Holidays

Author: Frances Jenkins Olcott

Why the Aspen Quivers


Long, long ago, so the legend says, when Joseph and Mary and the Holy Babe fled out of Bethlehem into Egypt, they passed through the green wildwood. And flowers and trees and plants bent their heads in reverence.

But the proud aspen held its head high and refused even to look at the Holy Babe. In vain the birds sang in the aspen’s branches, entreating it to gaze for one moment at the wonderful One; the proud tree still held its head erect in scorn.

Then outspake Mary, his mother. "O aspen tree," she said, "why do you not gaze on the Holy Child? Why do you not bow your head? A star arose at his birth, angels sang his first lullaby, kings and shepherds came to the brightness of his rising; why, then, O aspen, do you refuse to honor your Lord and mine?"

But the aspen could not answer. A strange shivering passed through its stem and along its boughs, which set its leaves a-quivering. It trembled before the Holy Babe.

And so from age to age, even unto this day, the proud aspen shakes and shivers.


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Chicago: Frances Jenkins Olcott, "Why the Aspen Quivers," Good Stories for Holidays, ed. Altemus, Henry in Good Stories for Holidays Original Sources, accessed March 24, 2023,

MLA: Olcott, Frances Jenkins. "Why the Aspen Quivers." Good Stories for Holidays, edited by Altemus, Henry, in Good Stories for Holidays, Original Sources. 24 Mar. 2023.

Harvard: Olcott, FJ, 'Why the Aspen Quivers' in Good Stories for Holidays, ed. . cited in , Good Stories for Holidays. Original Sources, retrieved 24 March 2023, from