In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

New Year: 'The Snowdrop' by Hans Christian Andersen

'The Snowdrop' - a story for New Year

Themes: Celebrating New Year. New beginnings, new life. Perseverance and determination.

Synopsis: Under the earth the Snowdrop bulb is determined to reach up towards the light.

When the Snowdrop finally reaches up into the world she discovers that it is still winter. The wind and the snow tell her this is 'our time' - not the time for flowers.

That night the temperature drops and the Snowdrop struggles to survive. But in the morning she is still alive and the sun is shining.

A girl and her mother walk past and the mother comments on the solitary snowdrop - the bravest flower, the first sign of spring.

Click on the link below to downlaad or print the story.

New Year: 'The Snowdrop' by Hans Christian Andersen - supporting resources:

  1. Transcript of story to print

Text of story

It was the middle of winter. The north wind howled. Snow and icy rain lashed the frozen earth. This was a dark part of the year with long freezing nights and short cold days. Nothing seemed to grow at this time of the year. Everything seemed dead. But of course not everything was dead.

Under the earth a snowdrop was alive and waiting. She was warm and snug inside her bulb but the little flower was not happy.

‘I want to stretch,’ she said.‘I want to reach up into the world. I want to open up my petals and feel the fresh air on my face.’

The snowdrop pushed at the walls of her bulb but she wasn’t strong enough to break them open. A winter sunbeam threw a shaft of light through a crack in the earth. The snowdrop felt the light and called out: ‘Help me. I’m trapped inside this bulb. Come and help me to open the door!’

‘I can’t,’ said the sunbeam. ‘I’m too weak. Wait until spring. Then I’ll be stronger. Then I can help you to break out.’

‘But when will spring come?’ said the snowdrop.

‘Soon,’ said the sunbeam. ‘You wait till the spring like a sensible flower. Spring’s the time for little flowers like you. Be patient.’

But the snowdrop could not be patient. Her bulb which had always been her safe warm home now felt like a prison. ‘I can’t wait for spring,’ she said. ‘If the sunbeam can’t help me I’ll have to escape all by myself.’

Although it was still winter and the icy rain and snow still fell on the freezing earth the little snowdrop was getting stronger every day and she was determined to escape. She pushed at the walls of her bulb with all her strength and this time the bulb gave way and the snowdrop was able to push out a green shoot which slowly, painfully made its way up towards the light.

At the end of the shoot was a tiny white flower. The snowdrop turned its face to the sun and was born. Sunbeams shone their light and warmth on the snowdrop who opened her eyes and smiled at the world. But as evening came the sunbeams disappeared behind dark clouds. The air grew colder. Night fell and the snowdrop felt flakes of snow brush on her petals.

‘Oh look,’ said the north wind. ‘Look who’s arrived. Stupid little flower. You’ve come up too soon.’

‘You wouldn’t listen would you,’ said the snow. ‘You only had to wait a few more weeks then I’d have been gone. But look at you here all by yourself’.

‘Yes, all alone,’ said the north wind. ‘Do you see any other flowers?’

The snowdrop couldn’t see anything at all. It was nearly dark and the snow blew in her face. ‘I just wanted to see the world,’ said the snowdrop.

‘Too soon’, hissed the freezing rain. ‘You came up too soon. What do you think you’re playing at coming out now in the middle of winter showing off and making a fool of yourself. You’re too tiny. You won’t last the night’.

‘It’s still winter,’ creaked the ice on the lake. ‘This time belongs to wind and rain and snow and ice. This is our time not yours’.

As night fell the snowdrop became frightened. Perhaps they were right. Perhaps she had been impatient and had come out too soon. Perhaps she was too tiny to survive all alone on a freezing night. The snowdrop shivered. But the little flower had more strength than she knew. She lifted up her face to the cold dark sky and said, ‘I came out because I was ready...because it was the right time...and if I die tonight in the cold then at least I will die happy.’

The snowdrop shut her eyes and slept. All around her the winds howled and a winter storm raged. But although she was tiny the snowdrop was tough and when the first sunbeams of the morning arrived they saw that the snowdrop was still alive.

It was a beautiful day. It was cold but the sky was blue. The snowdrop heard voices coming towards her. A little girl was walking with her mother in the winter sunshine.

‘Oh look’, said the girl. ‘It’s a little white flower’.

‘It’s a snowdrop,’ said her mother.

‘It’s very beautiful’, said the child. ‘Can I pick it and take it home?’

‘No,’ said her mother. ‘The snowdrop is a special, very brave little flower. It comes at the end of winter to remind us that spring is coming soon. None of the other flowers are brave enough to come out now when the air is so cold but this little flower is. Look she’s come all alone.’

‘Will other snowdrops come?’ asked the girl.

‘Yes,’ said her mother. ‘Soon there will be lots of snowdrops, then crocuses, then bluebells and buttercups and by summer the whole world will be full of flowers. But this little one - this little snowdrop - she is the first. The first sign of spring.’

The little girl and her mother went on their way. The snowdrop stood happily in the winter sunshine proud to be the first - the first sign of spring.

Programmes to download

Programmes to download at any time

Download programmes

A collection of programmes to download as mp3 files at any time. Includes dance and music.



Current podcasts

See all School Radio and other Learning podcasts available from the BBC Podcast Directory.

Contact us

Contact us

Contact us

We are always pleased to receive your feedback, suggestions and pupils' work.

'War Horse' by Michael Morpurgo

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

War Horse

All 10 episodes of Michael Morpurgo's famous story are now available to listen to online.

'Carrie's War' by Nina Bawden

Carrie's War by Nina Bawden

Carrie's War

Catch up on 'Carrie's War' by Nina Bawden. All 10 episodes are now available to listen to online.

Perform our School Musicals

Perform our School Musicals

School Musicals

Our performance scripts for 9 to 11s, complete with music, songs and special effects to download.

Macbeth for mobile and tablet

Macbeth videos for mobile and tablet

Macbeth animations

Watch Macbeth animated in 8 short video episodes for mobile/tablet. See the Teacher Notes.

Curriculum for Excellence

100 years since World War 1

WW1 Performance Pack

WW1 Performance Pack

Commemorate 100 years since WW1 by staging our specially-written play 'Archie Dobson's War'.

Private Peaceful - listen now!

Click to listen to Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

Private Peaceful

All 13 episodes of Michael Morpurgo's moving WW1 story are available to listen to online.

Teacher's notes

Teacher's Notes

Online Teacher's Notes

Notes to support the programmes including details of all the series content.