Thursday Myths & Legends 101: Snegurochka the Snow Maiden

"The Snow Maiden, Snegurochka" by Anatolyi Aleksabdrovich Kamorin

Snegurochka is the title character of a Russian fairy tale, a beautiful maiden made of snow.  In many stories she is the daughter of Spring and Frost, but in some stories she’s the daughter of a poor old couple who’ve built her out of snow (there’s a Japanese story that’s similar-but-different, I’ll get to that sometime!).

Every version of the story, however, ends with her demise due to her longing for human companionship.  This comes about in a number of ways.  In one of the stories, she leaves the forest against her parents’ wishes and joins with some girls.  At one point, the girls play a game where they take turns jumping over a small fire—Snegurochka gets halfway across and turns into a cloud of vapor.

Most common, though,  is the story where Snegurochka comes to like a shepherd named Lel, but because she has no heart, she cannot love him.  In despair she tells this to her mother, who pities her and gives her the heart she craves—but her heart is so warm that it melts and kills her.

In another version of the same story, her mother gives her a heart and she falls in love, only to be melted by a sunbeam, and in yet another the music Lel plays for her moves her so much that she cries, and her tears melt her away.

Basically, Snegurochka is doomed no matter which way you look at it.  But it’s still kind of a beautiful story.  I admit, I’m a sucker for any story about a person formed out of inanimate somethings.

If you’re interested in this fairy tale, there is both a ballet and an opera that use it as a storyline, along with a bunch of other adaptations—you just have to keep an eye out for them!

About Lisa Asanuma

Lisa is a professional freelance writer and editor, along with a bookbinder and knitting obsessee. Lisa has a passion for YA literature (inside her passion for literature in general) and is currently working on her first novel. View all posts by Lisa Asanuma

One response to “Thursday Myths & Legends 101: Snegurochka the Snow Maiden

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