Winter arrived in Peplandia. Pepyaka and his mom began preparing for the Longest Night: they hung up garlands and lanterns and decorated the windows with paper snowflakes.

The night was the longest — and also the most magical. Pepyaka read in a book that on this night, you could attract a holiday spirit. You just need to put a bowl of cookies and a glass of milk on the porch, and hang a wreath of winter flowers on the door. They had milk, and mom would bake cookies, but where could he find winter flowers?

Having no other options, Pepyaka decided to go into the forest in search of flowers. He wanted to meet the holiday spirit so much! He dressed warmly, said goodbye to his mom, took a lantern — the night was about to fall — and set off on his journey.

He walked and walked, for a long time. It had become completely dark. The shadows thickened, night animals rustled, and the wind howled. Pepyaka was scared, but he didn’t show it and held the lantern tightly, lighting his path.

Suddenly, something big and very, very scary loomed out of the darkness in front of Pepyaka. Pepyaka huddled into a ball, shielded himself with the lantern, and looked grimly as if to say, “I’m not afraid of you!” But whatever it was came closer, closer… Was it Krampus searching for prey? One step, another, and…

In the light of Pepyka’s lantern, an ordinary deer appeared! The Deer looked at the furry lump in surprise and asked why he was alone in the forest on such a night. Still a little afraid, Pepyaka told him about the holiday spirit and the winter flowers.

“But where can I find flowers in winter?” Pepyaka sighed sadly.

“In the winter glade, of course!” The Deer jumped with enthusiasm, “It’s not far from here. Let’s go; I’ll show you.”

Pepyka was truly surprised but decided to trust the Deer. He was too scared to be alone again. They walked and walked, for a long time. Pepyka had started to doubt when suddenly, a light appeared ahead. The glade! And on it — flowers, lots of them. They grew right out of the snow and shimmered with soft, cold light.

Pepyka thanked the Deer and ran to the glade. When the bouquet was ready, the Deer politely offered to take Peppy home, and he gladly agreed. In gratitude for the help, Pepyka invited the Deer to the festive table.

While mom baked cookies, Pepyaka made a wreath of winter flowers. He hung it on the door and sat down to wait on the porch. He waited for a long time, almost freezing his tail, but the spirit never appeared. Pepyaka was disappointed and went back inside, shivering from the cold and resentment. And then he heard a crunch outside!

Pepyaka rushed to the door and found a small bearded creature in a red cap on the porch. The bearded one had already emptied half of the glass of milk and was munching cookies with gusto.

“Is there more?” he asked when the plate was empty.

“Y-yes… Are you the holiday spirit?” Pepyaka asked.

“Call me Tonttu!” the bearded one replied and lazily walked into the house and stayed there forever.

From that night on, Peppy had a friend, the Deer, and from behind the kitchen cabinet, a cozy crunch of cookies was often heard.


2022 y.