The Little Match Girl As A Maiden And Unhappy Girl

2023 has just begun, and it’s time to learn new things and dig deeper into our gothic side to enjoy the morbid and unusual. Let’s start with something light and dark, shall we?

Card Games And Fairy Tales

New Year’s greetings, Biters! Let’s kick 2023 off with a rather odd choice for a GBM article. I want to look at Yu-Gi-Oh!.

Now, I want to discuss something other than the anime or manga. I want to look at the real-world trading card game, but even more so, one card in particular, The Unhappy Maiden.

Every character in the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise has a signature card. Even though I don’t get to play anymore, I’m no different, and this maiden has become a vital part of me.

In the original series of the anime, the protagonist’s best friend had a wonderful monologue about every card as it had a story.

The neat thing is that it wasn’t just fluff dialogue, either. Some cards tell their stories through multiple card arts, while our real-world stories, myths and legends inspired others.

My maiden’s story, Biters, well, it just happens to be the latter. And it turns out it’s a seasonal favourite of our own Clara Winter. So, I’m going to let her tell you all about it. Winter, the floor is yours.

WARNING/DISCLAIMER: Child abuse | Homelessness | PTSD | Death | Addiction | Hypothermia | Trauma | Hallucination | Dependence | Suicide.

The Little Match Girl Genesis By Clara Winter

The Little Match Girl is a Danish New Year’s tale written by the incredible Hans Christian Andersen. In Danish, the title is ‘Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne’ which translates literally to ‘The Little Girl With Sulfur Sticks.’ The story’s first publication was on November 18th, 1845.

Andersen’s tale is quite popular in my French province of Québec in Canada. It is a beloved tale of mine and my home. We have a strong bond with it, and it might be because we share lands with Newfoundland or because we simply relate as a people to the little girl in the story. Either way, this tale has many screen adaptations as well as theatrical and ballet recitals.

The Little Match Girl Ballet by the Wee Dance Company of Berlin

The story speaks of child abuse, rejection, and addiction, and it isn’t farfetched to believe it’s also about a desire to commit *suicide. It directly connected the tale to the author, Andersen, who received a letter from an editor to write a story. He had three choices for a theme and opted for the saddest and darkest of all three: a little girl holding matches.

The wood carving reminded him of his grandmother, who was a beggar as a child and sometimes spent a day without eating. He spoke of his grandmother in previous work. So, he decided to tell a biographical story. It was the one of a little girl who hid under a bridge. She hid between his home and his neighbour’s to hide from her parents.

* Talk Suicide Centre: You matter to us all, please reach help if you believe you are in need.

The Little Match Girl Summary Goes Like This…

A poor little girl sold matches in the cold streets of Copenhagen on New Year’s Eve. She tries her best to sell them to those walking by, remaining indifferent to the poor little dirty girl. She didn’t sell one match all day. Therefore, she dreads the idea of walking home to her father, who she knows would wound her with his fists, kicks, whipping and screams.

This poor little girl in torn clothes and only rags to wrap her feet in the snow sits on stairs made of stone next to a house in a corner. She lights match after match to keep warm. Cold, starved and recovering from previous wounds, the little girl hallucinates dreams of being loved and held dear.

In her hallucination caused by the frost crippling her veins, nose, lips, fingertips and ears, she eats a warm meal, and a fire is crackling in the hearth, surrounded by family and a Yule tree.

When lucidity crept in, the little girl would light more matches to escape her reality. She decides to remain in the freezing cold of Scandinavian winter rather than walk home. People walking by ignored her despite the night settling in on New Year’s Eve. She lights another match, and this time someone who loves her appears before her eyes, her grandmother, who passed away close to the holiday season.

Not wanting to let go of her, the little girl was warm now, almost too warm, but without the match’s light, her grandmother wouldn’t appear. The little girl knew she would never go home again and lit the last match. Her grandmother appears in a bright light, softly take her hand and hugs her tightly before guiding her to heaven.

The Little Match Girl Illustration from Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tale
The Little Match Girl Illustration from Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tale

On New Year’s day, people living around the staircase and corner where the little girl tried to hide from the cold saw her. The little girl passed away, eaten up by frost and cold and indifference, but she had a smile on her face. The people of the town mourn the death of the little match girl because they didn’t even bother to learn her name.

Andersen created an unnamed protagonist so that people could see any child in her depiction. He wrote one of the saddest holidays stories in The Little Match Girl. She was just a child dressed in rags and torn fabric, covered in soot and bruises, her blond hair tangled and dirty, but a child nonetheless.

The cold didn’t kill the little girl because she chose it over pain and indifference. Her father and the town’s people killed her, which is one of the most powerful messages ever shared in this type of fairy tale. That is why Hans Christian Andersen is one of my favourite authors. — Clara Winter

The Connection I Have With The Little Match Girl Card

That’s the story of The Little Match Girl and its origin. Now, let me tell you a little about my personal deck and how it connects back to this holiday fairy tale.

The Unhappy Maiden and her upgrade, The Unhappy Girl, are effect monsters. So, they have no ‘flavour’ text besides their Wiki pages saying it’s inspired by this tragic Andersen story.

Looking at their effects, you can see parallels to the tale. The Unhappy Maiden‘s effect happens when this card is sent to the graveyard because of battle: the battle phase ends.

Then there is Unhappy Girl‘s second effect of any monster to battle with it can no longer attack or change position. Both go back to the abusive father and how she wants to escape the pain.

The Ability Of The Unhappy Maiden And Unhappy Girl

Unhappy Girl‘s first ability allows the battle to not destroy her. While in attack position, she is a mirror to her sitting out on the cold winter streets, preferring to slowly freeze to death than go back home to her dad.

Sadly, Biters giving proper gameplay and strategy the way I play my deck could be seen as the father’s abusing her since I use the cards’ indestructibility and paralyzing effect to go after targets far bigger and stronger.

In the story, she sat hidden away. Lighting the matches, she was meant to sell gave her very little warmth and comforting visions in their flames. Just as she had a basket full of match sticks, my deck mirrors this with trap and spell cards that stop attacks, redirect them or reduce damage to zero.

Speaking of the Unhappy Girl being hidden away, I’d like to bring up another of my monster cards, the Shining Angel. This card can search copies of itself from the deck and my Girl and Maiden when it’s destroyed in battle.

Biters, if you think of the deck of cards as the alley she hid in and what angel tends to symbolise something pure and innocent like, say, our poor female lead. I found my cards and our protagonist after it was too late.

Based On The True Story Of A Friend

I want to close this article out with a rather interesting observation I made when thinking of all I wanted to say in this article.

Truth can be stranger than fiction, and life imitates art, as they say. The Unhappy Maiden is my favourite Yu-Gi-Oh! As I mentioned before, the card represents The Little Match Girl and is Winter’s favourite seasonal tale.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Shining Angel - Card
Yu-Gi-Oh! Shining Angel – Card

Well, Biters, check this out. The story is of Danish origin, with mostly French reinterpretations. Our creator, Winter, is French with Scandinavian blood—Québec shares the land with Newfoundland, an early Viking settlement.

The character on my card sports red hair. Well, so does Winter. The match girl died on a cold wintery street. Winter, well, she lives in Canada. Both our girls have a background with a toxic family, only finding happiness and safety in a grandparent.

You Are Finding This Freaky, But There Is A Bit More

Winter shared a moment from her childhood before we ever met. She drowned when she was a kid for a brief moment. As a result, she was legally dead.

So, me, a stranger, did not come across our favourite OCD Vampire until after her death. There is also the fact that I’m the one she seeks to cheer her up when she is down.


Call this coincidence, fate, or poetic that our paths crossed, but it was just an interesting observation.

I think here is where I’ll wrap it up. Once again, Happy New Year, y’all, and till next time.

James Vaughan

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