Station 1: Luxembourg’s “Wiichtelcher”
Did you know that not only in the fairy tale « Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs » are there supposed to be little people who work under the ground and like to help other people? Here in Luxembourg, many people have believed that dwarfs exist.
In a thick book written 150 years ago by Nicolas Gredt, we find many stories about these little people, who in Luxembourg were called « Wiichtelen » or « Wiichtelcher ». Here in Useldange they were named « Äestercher » and had the specific task of preventing children from drowning in the river Atert. Elsewhere they were known as « Wichtelmännercher », « Heinzelmännercher » or « Zwergen ». Across the Luxembourg countryside, you will find tales of little houses or underground passages where no adult human being could stay, at most a three- or four-year-old child.
At the next eleven stations you will learn more about the « Wiichtelcher » and what they are said to have done throughout country.
Station 2: The dwarfs of Reckange / Mersch
A long time ago, there lived a boy in Reckange near Mersch whose father had died. He lived alone with his mother on a small farm. They had a lot of work and their horse helped them plough and sow the fields. One day, however, the animal fell ill and died that same night. Since the boy and his mother were poor people, they could not afford a new horse.
« Go to my brother who lives in Rollingen, » the woman said to her son. « Tell him to lend you a horse ». And so, the boy set off on foot to Rollingen. When he arrived there, he complained to his uncle about their misfortune. But the uncle was a selfish man. « Don’t think I’ll lend you one of my horses. I need them all myself ». Sad and desperate, the son went home.
Halfway home, the boy met a dwarf. He asked him why he was so sad and depressed. « Our horse is dead. We are poor people and cannot buy a new one. And our uncle from Rollingen won’t lend us one of his horses. We will never be able to sow our fields. I am afraid we will starve this winter ». The dwarf thought for a while and answered: « Go home, buy seeds, and ask your neighbour if you can
use his plough. Put it all in your field. I will do the rest ».
The boy hurried home, bought seed, got the neighbour’s plough, and put everything on field as the
dwarf had asked. The next morning, he went to the field: it had been ploughed and sown. And so,
the boy put everyone’s seed and plough in another of his fields until they had all been worked.
That winter they suffered no hunger.
Station 3: The dwarfs of Folkendingen and Ermsdorf
Many years ago, a girl from the Erenz Valley became the godmother of a dwarf child. No one knows how this was possible. Her parents didn’t know either.
One day, the girl set off to visit her godchild. The dwarf’s family lived in a cute little house. She received a very friendly welcome and had a great time with the child’s family. After a while, the girl wanted to go home because she thought night was about to fall and she didn’t want to worry her parents. She said goodbye to everyone and went home. But when she arrived, everything had changed. Nothing was the same. She walked through the house and found an old woman with grey hair sitting in an armchair in the living room. She had a very sad face with a lot of wrinkles.
The girl wondered who this old woman was. « What are you doing here? » she asked the old woman.
« And where is my mother? ». « Oh, my child, it’s almost unbelievable! Is it really you? » the old woman groaned. « I have been waiting for this moment for so long ». « I don’t understand what you mean » replied the girl. The old woman’s eyes filled with tears. « We have missed you so much. You were gone for thirteen years ».
Station 4: The dwarfs of Trintingen
It is said that dwarfs lived between Ersingen and Medingen. In winter, the little people would come to Medingen at night and thresh in the barns. After work, they would take a handful of grains home
One day, a farmer drove into his field with his plough. It was in an area where it was said that thedwarfs had their underground houses. It must have been baking day, because suddenly, the farmer heard a voice calling from under the ground: « I want cake! ». Then other voices rang out, « Me too! Me too! ». The farmer could not resist and shouted, « Me too! ». When he returned to the field after his lunch break, he found a piece of cake on his plough.
Station 5: The dwarfs of Katzenfelsen
It is said that dwarfs also lived around Mamer and Kehlen.
One year it had been particularly dry and most of the springs had dried up. This was a big problem for the farmers: without water, no plants can grow. And without plants, no grains, without grains, no flour and without flour, no bread. The people were hungry. The little bread that could be found was expensive.
In the winter of that year, a man gathered all his coins and set off for Kehlen to buy bread. In the evening he trotted sadly back home through a thick blanket of snow. He had not been able to buy any bread in all Kehlen. He had not had enough money. Shortly after he had crossed the « Kuelebaach », he heard a terrible noise and loud banging. Opposite the Katzenfelsen, near the Goldberg, he saw a large oven. Shadows were moving around the stove. They were dwarfs who lived nearby. Quietly, the man crept closer. The dwarfs were processing a huge pile of gold into gold coins. « What luck! » rejoiced the man, who consequently lamented his sorrow to the dwarfs. Feeling sorry for the man, they allowed him to take as many gold coins as he would need. His pockets full, the man turned around to thank the dwarfs. They and their oven, however, had disappeared.
Station 6: The dwarfs of Nenning
In Nennig, on the other side of the Moselle near Bech-Maacher, there was a hill called
« Wichtelknäppchen ». One evening, it was funfair Saturday, a woman brought her food to her men who were working on the hill.
She had taken the fairground cake out of the oven an hour before, and the wonderful warm smell could be smelled from afar. When the woman reached the top of the hill, she saw dwarfs sticking their heads out of the ground and calling out. « Bake us a cake too! Bake us a cake too! ». The woman
stopped, looked at the dwarfs, and replied: « First you bake me a cake! When do you celebrate the fair? ». This annoyed the dwarfs very much. From then on, the dwarfs were never seen in Nennig during the day again. And the woman had disappeared. Today, on starry nights, you can sometimes see an old woman walking by with her basket and hear the dancing dwarfs cheekily shouting « Bake me a cake! Bake me a cake!
Station 7: The dwarfs of Vichten
Shaddai, the king of the dwarfs, is said to have lived in a large palace in Vichten. For a long time, Shaddai ruled his people from there. One day, however, the king was murdered by his own people.
What could have happened? Was it because he was too close to the people? In Vichten, in the direction of Useldange, there used to be a castle called « Scheierbuerg ». It was inhabited by a terrible knight. Underground passages are said to have connected the Scheuerbuerg and the castle in Useldange. Was there treasure involved? One is said to be buried in Useldange, and dwarfs are known to hide gold and money in their underground passages.
The fact is, we don’t know. However, it was said that the dwarfs who lived under the « Scheierbësch » fed mice with gold. But the dwarfs of Vichten were certainly the richest. They often boasted when they saw the Useldange dwarfs and said with malicious glee: « You may plough with a silver plough. But our plough is made of gold¨ ».
It seems it is not just people who enjoy boasting.
Station 8: The dwarfs of Mersch
Many dwarves are said to have lived in the vicinity of Mersch, near Angelsberg, Schoenfels and Reckange. They are said to have helped good people and played tricks on bad people. Those who have seen the dwarves, report that they wear a large straw hat and always have a shovel or a hoe with them. Otherwise, they are dressed like humans. Their dwellings were deep under the ground in the mountains and were connected by passages. In Reckange, a well had been found that had been built by the dwarves. It was so deep that even after three days the inhabitants of the village had not filled it up with stones.
Station 9: The dwarfs of Niederfeulen
In Niederfeulen, the dwarfs lived deep under the ground. They were no taller than an eight-year-old child. You never saw them during the day, they were only ever out and about at night. And they could run fast! As fast as a racehorse. They helped people who were kind: They spun and ploughed in the fields. No one ever saw them at work. But if someone did something bad to them! Then they stole from them and took the loot back to their caves. One day a man saw a dwarf stealing a loaf of bread. When the man tried to stop the dwarfs, the little creature started scratching him so much that the man was afraid for his eyes. After this incident, the inhabitants of Niederfeulen were afraid of the imps and gave them everything they could.
Station 10: The dwarfs of Bertrange
A long time ago, a dwarf worked as a farmhand in a stable. He always sat high up in the roof truss, watching everything very carefully. He never grumbled and always finished his work on time as expected. When the farmer came to the stable in the morning, the dwarf was usually combing the horses. As soon as the farmer caught sight of him though, he disappeared into the loft.
The farmer appreciated the dwarfs help. In return, in the evening, the farmer left all the doors open and put out several plates of food. On finishing his meal, the little creature disappeared back into its hiding place.
During a particularly cold winter, the villagers took great pity on the dwarf. So, they made clothes for him and put them next to the food. When the little man saw the clothes, he was frightened and thought: « Is this supposed to be the reward for my work? Am I no longer needed? ». With tears in his eyes, he disappeared and was never seen again.
Station 11: The dwarfs of Bollendorf and the cow with the golden horns
A long time ago, a boy in Bollendorf had to herd the cows on the other side of the Sûre. However, he did not feel like doing his job at all and did it correspondingly badly. He took the cows out of the stable much too late and brought them back too early in the evening. The cows suffered a lot. One day, when the boy was standing in the pasture with his cattle, a white cow with golden horns came out of the forest and joined them. When the boy tried to drive his cows home, they just stopped and would not leave the pasture. No matter what he did, the boy just couldn’t chase the white cow with the golden horns away. He waited and waited, but the cow stayed until sunset. The same thing happened for the next few days. Determined to solve the mystery of the white cow with the golden horns, one evening he followed the animal into the forest. After a while, they saw the cow run into a cave. A short time later, an ugly dwarf appeared from the cave. « Is this your cow? » the boy asked rudely. « I’ve herded her long enough without pay. You should pay me for my work! ». The dwarf became very angry: » You cheeky boy! My cow doesn’t need to be herded at all. She joined your cows in the pasture because you don’t look after your herd properly! ». « You want to receive payment? » cried the dwarf. « I’ll give you your wages! » he added, throwing the boy gold and silver coins.
When the boy arrived home, it turned out that the coins no longer had any value.
Station 12: The dwarfs of Sterpenich
Many centuries ago, a terrible knight lived in Sterpenich near Arlon. He was a wicked man. One day he gave a man the order to bring a letter all the way to Metz and to be back in Sterpenich before sunset. This was impossible, as it already took twelve hours to walk to Metz. It was also clear what would happen to the man if he did not complete the task. The poor man ran as fast as he could. Suddenly, outside the village, a dwarf with a carriage to which 3 white horses were harnessed, appeared. The dwarf offered the man to climb into his carriage. The man gratefully accepted the offer and climbed in. And so it happened that the man was able to complete the task in the prescribed time after all.
The knight naturally wanted to know how it was possible for the man to travel to Metz and back so quickly. He called the man towards him, who proceeded to tell the story of the dwarf and his coachman. In the end, the man added: « Sir, I am to tell you that the dwarf will pick you up today with his carriage! When the knight heard these words, he turned as pale as chalk and howled in despair: « I’m going to die!
That evening a carriage, with 4 black horses, was seen leaving the castle with the knight’s body.