Stories & Tales
The Priest and the Peas

There was a priest in Bethlehem who enjoyed a good meal. He had learned by heart the list of fasts and festivals of the Orthodox Church. He knew the exact number of days between each fasting season and the feast to follow. To keep track of the days and remember to remind his parishioners of the fasts, he devised a system to remind himself: he put in one of his pockets a number of peas equal to the number of days he wanted to remember, and every morning transferred one pea to the other pocket. So by counting the peas still in the first pocket, he could always tell how many days remained till the feast.

This priest had a wife who did not know of this arrange¬ment. One day, while tidying his clothes, she was surprised to find peas in his pockets. She decided that he must have developed a new liking to peas. Out of her love for him, she filled all his pockets with peas.

A few days later, the priest was seen in great distress in the streets of Bethlehem exclaiming: “According to the peas, there will be no feast.”

Adapted from Folklore of the Holy Land, J.E.Hanauer, Dover Publications