ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Snow Maiden - Russian Christmas Character

Updated on December 20, 2015
avorodisa profile image

Avorodisa writes to her pleasure and always will. She is a native Russian speaker who adores English.

Father Frost accompanied by Snow Maiden
Father Frost accompanied by Snow Maiden | Source

A Girl Made of Snow

Those who are familiar with Russian Christmas and New Year traditions know that the main characters are Father Frost and his granddaughter, Snow Maiden. And though Father Frost has a cultural analogy in Europe and America, Snow Maiden is a completely authentic figure.

An ice girl made from snow by Father Frost and his wife Lady Winter, popularized by Russian writers and pedagogues, the character has quite a long history originating in ancient pagan rituals.

Snow Maiden at the Russian Maslenitsa festival in London
Snow Maiden at the Russian Maslenitsa festival in London | Source

Snow Maiden's First Appearence

Both Father Frost and Snow Maiden became main figures at children's Christmas performances at the end of the nineteenth century. Russia was still the Russian Empire at that time, and the religion was officially Christian. Christmas was an official and religious holiday alongside with New Year. In the Soviet Union the tradition was preserved, but the religion was abandoned and the date of the celebration changed: instead of January 7th, date of Orthodox Christmas, it hit January 1st, the New Year's Day.

A little earlier, in the middle of the nineteenth century, Russian dramatist Alexander Ostrovsky wrote a play of the same name. The work stood out among all his writings. The author as it seemed wanted to create not a social drama, as usually, but a kind of utopia. In this fairy tale, as he called it, you can not find any beggars walking along the roads or drama queens, sensitive and loving - always the wrong person. You do not encounter dominating old ladies or dishonest and mean rich people taking advantage of the poor and the kind-hearted. What you see is the kingdom of Berendey, a wise and just tsar. His people are happy, socially equal, hard-working. They are good craftsmen and free to love anybody.

According to the plot Snow Maiden miraculously appears from the forest to become the daughter-in-law for an elderly couple. She was created by Father Frost (also known as Morozko) to comfort the last years of the old lady and her husband. The girl is integrated in the family life and community but for one problem.

Guys fall in love with her while she doesn't feel attracted to anyone. Blamed for her cold-heartedness, Snow Maiden cannot help it. It's her nature to stay cold, and when she finally falls in love, she melts during youth games while jumping over a fire. Ostrovsky made us believe in a love story, but the meaning of it all goes deeper.

The writer took his inspiration from old pagan slavic rituals. Snow Maiden is nothing but a seasonal spirit that appears in winter and disappears in spring. The ritual has been preserved in another slavic tradition - the burning of a female dummy nearing the time of spring equinox.

The celebration is better known as a pancake holiday - Maslenitsa - meaning "butter holiday", probably because the pancakes are buttered. But it's not only kvass and pancakes. At the end of the festivity they burn Maslenitsa herself, the seasonal spirit and a female character who first falls ill, then dies, then comes to life again.

Burning of the dummy in Astrakhan, Russia
Burning of the dummy in Astrakhan, Russia | Source

Curious Analogies

If you take a closer look at what happens on Maslenitsa, you will find an analogy between Russian Snow Maiden and Maslenitsa. In fact, it's the same character but renamed thanks to Alexander Ostrovsky, the Russian dramatist.

But the analogies do not stop there. The pagan ritual is the story of the resurrection of the soul. And that is already Christianity. Only in Christian stories it is the male figure - Jesus Christ - who is resurrected.

Snow Maiden and Maslenitsa have another name still - Kostroma. That's how they called the dummy a long, long time ago. There is a picturesque Russian city with the same name situated on the banks of the Volga river. Probably, the city got its name from the faggot dressed in woman's clothes and the main character of the pagan ritual. It is in this land - in Kostroma region - that Alexander Ostrovsky wrote his Snow Maiden, Snegurochka. What inspired him most: the authentic nature of the region, frosty winters, spring thunderstorms and cool but fruitful summers or ancient pagan legends about the revival of the human soul so close to the Christian Resurrection? Who knows.

But Snow Maiden stays till today - alongside with Father Frost - the main character of New Year's festivities in Russia.

© 2015 Anna Sidorova

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • KsenijaZ profile image

      Ksenija 

      21 months ago from Novo mesto, Slovenia

      Nice hub! The name Snegurochka came to our ears last winter when my husband wanted to do something special for our daughter. So he went in the forest, put the present under some tree and make some signs to follow. The next morning my daughter found 'a map' and a picture of Snegurochka under our Christmas/New Years tree. We told her that Snegurochka and Father Frost left her a present in the forest and draw a map so that she can find it. She was so excited :) The best part was the adventure in the forest, searching for the gift and not the gift alone :)

      Happy New Year!

    • avorodisa profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Sidorova 

      23 months ago from Russia

      Hi Nell Rose. I am familiar with Guy Fawkes. It's curious how similar traditions can be in different parts of the world.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      23 months ago from England

      How fascinating! I love the burning of the maiden at the end, we have a similar thing over here in England. only its called bonfire night. back in the 17th century there was a man called guy fawkes who tried to blow up parliament, we always have a 'guy' man on a bonfire on November 5th! love all these traditions!

    • avorodisa profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Sidorova 

      2 years ago from Russia

      Hello, Paramita and Larry. Thank you for stopping by.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very interesting read!

    • Paramita Mallik profile image

      PARAMITA MALLIK 

      2 years ago from KOLKATA,WEST BENGAL

      Very informative hub..thanks for sharing :)

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)