Snegurochka – Russian New Year character
Russian people have their New Year Trinity – Ded Moroz, his granddaughter Snegurochka (Snow Maiden) and Snowman. There are a lot of different Santas all over the world, but Snegurochka is the only! She is Russian heritage. Maiden image is a symbol of frozen water, she is forever young and cheerful pagan goddess.
In 1873, Alexander Ostrovsky wrote the play “Snow Maiden”, where the girl appeared as Ded Moroz’s daughter. In 1882, Rimsky – Korsakov staged an opera based on the play. V.M. Vasnetsov painted costumes for the opera. In 1968 was filmed a movie “Snow Maiden” by Pavel Kadochnikov.
In early 1937 Ded Moroz and his granddaughter first appeared together in the Moscow House of Unions (the most important New Year tree festival of the Soviet Union).
Until recently, origin of the girl was covered by the veil of mystery. Let’s try to find out where she is from. What is known about the Snow Maiden from different sources:
1. She appeared in Russian folklore as a character of a folk tale about a girl made of snow, who came to life.
2. Some people think that the image of Maiden originated from a certain image of the pagan goddess of winter and death Morana (Kostroma, Morena, Marana, Mara, Marmara). But they are mistaken. The goddess was cruel and ruthless. Ancient people burnt the effigy of winter (their goodbye to boring and cold winter) on the last day of Maslenitsa (Mardi Gras) – Forgiveness Sunday. Of course, the image of brutal Marana has nothing in common with a surprisingly bright image of Maiden, fabulous snow girl.
3. Frost and his wife Winter had three sons: December, January and February. There was a girl called Blizzard, who dated three sons and then gave birth to a girl named Snow Maiden. I suppose it was December who became her father, because the girl and Moroz come in December.
4. One more legend. In late winter, early spring, appeared a union, love between two opposites – hot and cold. Frost met Spring. They got married and gave birth to a pretty little girl. But soon the girl came into contact with evil forces and her daughter Maiden was born. Frost had taken the little girl away from bad mother. Guess what, Frost’s daughter was Baba Yaga.
Just look at the picture! She looks much older than Grandfather Frost. Maybe because bad habits and a lot of human meat.
5. Everyone knows that Snegurochka is the granddaughter of Ded Moroz, but who her father and mother are?
According to one version, once upon a time Frost and Snowstorm (Metelitsa) gave birth to a son Snowman. And later Snowman and Russian goddess Spring became parents of a wonderful girl Snegurochka).
And what about Snowman?
The snowman is a true spirit of the winter. In the ancient pagan period people believed that little snowmen were angels, as the snow was a gift from heaven. Making a snowman they made a wish and as snow melt the wish came true. The snowman is one of the most beloved New Year’s characters.
In Europe, according to ancient legend, the figure of the first snowman was made by an Italian sculptor, architect and poet Michelangelo Buonarroti at the end of the XV century, approximately in 1493. A snowman image first appeared as an illustration in a children’s book with songs, published in Leipzig.
St. Francis of Assisi believed that the creation of snowmen and their destruction was a unique method of dealing with demons. Only in the XIX century, when Christian dogma began to lose its influence, European snowmen became “kinder”. Now they are a symbol of Christmas and New Year.
There are a lot of fairy tales devoted to the snowman. The most famous is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen “Snowman”. Hero of another good German fairy tale «Dream of brown Snowman» is a chocolate snowman, who wants to see the snow.
In our civilized world, creating snow figures is not only a favorite activity for kids, but for adults. The highest snowman was made in the United States in 1999: height – 37 meters 20 centimeters, and weight – 6000 tons of snow.
There is an annual Snowmen Parade in Moscow.
Snow Maiden (Russian New Year fairy tale)
At the end of the story Snow Maiden died. I’d prefer to tell you the full version with the happy end)
Once upon a time there lived an old man and an old woman. They were a very happy couple but childless.
One day peasant woman looked out the window to watch the children play in the snow. She had only one wish to have the own child. The husband suggested to his wife that they should go outside and build a snowman, instead of sitting in the house all day. The wife agreed, but she wanted to build a girl — a Snow Maiden.
They spent that whole day carefully building and molding a Snow Maiden. They inserted two bright blue beads for eyes, and a bright red ribbon for her mouth. Then they stood back to look at their beautiful creation. As they watched they noticed something, it looked as if the snow maiden was smiling. The couple then realized that she was coming to life. After she smiled her hair curled up and she walked into the house. The peasant couple finally had a daughter of their own! Snow maiden grew to be beautiful. Her eyes gleamed bright blue and her flaxen hair hung down to her waist.
As winter melted into spring, and the weather started getting warmer, Snow maiden started to behave strangely. She no longer wanted to go outside to play with the other children, and she began to hide in the dark places of the house. The husband and wife began to worry about her.
Soon summer came and Snow maiden was more withdrawn than ever. One day her friends asked her to join them on a trip into the woods to pick berries. Snow maiden was reluctant to join, but at the persistence of her parents went along. In the woods Snow maiden was sure to stay in the shade. When nightfall came her friends built a fire, and played games jumping over it. Snow maiden, however, sat by an icy river. Her friends called to her to join their games, but Snow maiden did not want to go. But as the night went on Snow maiden grew very lonely by herself at the river, and decided to join their games. «Jump over the fire!» her friends yelled at her. Snow maiden took a step, ran towards the fire, jumped, and melted away, turned into a white cloud. The cloud disappeared in the sky.
As her “parents” learned about the accident they began to cry. And suddenly they heard the voice of the Snow Maiden – “Do not cry, my dear. I cannot live with you in summer. Just do not forget me. I’ll come back to you as soon as the first snow falls.” The old man and the old woman didn’t believe their ears but began to look forward to winter. One day they woke up and saw that the ground was covered by white, fluffy sparkling snow. They ran out into the street and saw beautiful Maiden. What a joy!
On New Year’s Eve came Ded Moroz and presented the old man and woman with a big wonderful terem (house). It was a great party. Since then Snow Maiden comes with the first snow and in summer she flies to the North.
I wish you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!