Hello. I’m Christy Van Arragon. And I’m Marina Santee. Welcome to Spotlight. This programme uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live. ‘Matches! Light your fires with my matches! Would you like to buy some matches sir? What about you madam? They are the best kind! Strike them against any wall! They will burn! Someone must want some matches - anyone?’ A small girl walks through the streets. She is cold and hungry. Where can she find help on a cold winter’s day? The Little Match Girl is a popular story. Children’s writer Hans Christian Anderson wrote it. People like to re-tell the story during the Christmas season. Both adults and children enjoy it. Here is Ruby Jones with the Little Match Girl. A cold wind blows across the town. People hurry along, holding their warm coats close to their bodies. It is a cold winter! They will be happy to get home to their warm fires and nice food! Street sellers count their money at the end of the day. But for the little match girl, there is no money to count. No one wants to buy her matches. So, she is afraid to go home. Her father will beat her for sure! The little girl walks across the street. The snow falls on her long hair. She looks up at the tall beautiful houses as she passes. She can hear people laughing inside. The smell of food cooking rises in the air. The people are preparing their last meal before the New Year. The little match girl walks to a quiet street corner. She sits down, holding her knees. She tries to pull her feet under her body. They are so cold. She has no shoes, or coat. Her feet are blue from walking on the cold ground. Maybe she should go home? But even her home is not warm. She lives in a poor house. The little girl puts her head in her hands. A tear wets the side of her face. If only she could be warm - for just a minute. Then, she has an idea - matches! She has her matches! Her father would be angry if she wasted any matches. But, she only wants one, just one. Maybe it will warm her freezing fingers. The little girl reaches into her clothes pocket and gets a match. She strikes it against the wall - fire! The warm orange light shines in the darkness. The little girl looks hard at the small dancing fire. Her mind wonders. She imagines that she is sitting by a warm cooking oven. It seems so real! She can see the oven. She can feel its heat. She stretches her legs, and warms her feet. How the fire burns! Then, the fire from the match goes out. The oven disappears. The little girl is once again in the cold darkness. Only the half burnt match remains in her hand. The little match girl is so sad. Her happiness had come and gone so quickly. Maybe she could burn one more match? She takes another. And she strikes it against the wall. Fire lights up her sad face. She smiles. This time, she sees the wall become thin. It is almost like paper! She can see through it! Behind it, she sees a room. She puts her hand to her mouth in wonder! Such beauty! There is a huge shiny table. Hot food lies on it! Her mouth waters! She can almost taste the hot food! She reaches out for a little to feed her hungry stomach. But suddenly the fire from the match goes out! Once more, everything disappears! Only the grey wall remains before her. So the little girl strikes another match. The golden fire burns again. This time, she is under a huge Christmas tree! Beautiful bells and flowers hang from the tree. Lights shine from its green branches. It is the most beautiful tree she has ever seen! A light falls from the tree. She starts to think of her dead grandmother. She misses her so much! Then, the match goes out. Without thinking, the little girl lights another match. This time, standing in the light, she sees her grandmother! She looks beautiful. The little girl cries. Her grandmother was the only person who ever showed her love. ‘Grandmother! Take me with you! I know when the fire goes out you will disappear! Please take me with you!’ The little girl takes all the matches. One by one she strikes them against the wall. She burns them quickly, so the picture does not disappear. The light shines brighter and brighter. She sees her grandmother more clearly. The little girl reaches out to her grandmother. Her grandmother stretches out her arms to receive the little girl. The following morning the sun shines on the white, icy road. Only a few people walk on the quiet streets. Suddenly they stop at the street corner. They see a small body on the ground. It is a little girl. She is surrounded by matches. “Poor thing. She was trying to keep warm,” the people commented. But no one knew the beauty she saw on the night of New Year’s Eve. And no one knew the greater beauty she saw now, with her grandmother - in a place without hunger or pain. She had found love. The little match girl is a popular story at Christmas time! It is an imaginary story. But people see many messages in it. Some people say the little match girl makes them think about people who have less than them. They think about people who may be poor or lonely at Christmas. The story encourages them to help those in need. Other people see a message behind the pictures in the story. The little match girl liked all the pictures she saw. But the picture she wanted to stay with her was the one of her grandmother. This was the only one that offered a different kind of happiness - love. Unconditional love is another message some people see in the story. The grandmother represents a love that does not die. This love carries the little girl to a place without pain or suffering. This makes some people think about God’s love and heaven - especially at Christmas time. They think of Jesus’ unconditional love to the world. And they think of his love that will carry them to a better place one day - heaven. The writer and producer of today’s programme was Marina Santee. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States.