A Russian tale tells of a woodcutter and his
wife who were childless. They were a good and kind couple but they were
lonely. One winter day, to ease their loneliness, they began to roll large
snowballs. together, and in short while they made a “snequrochka“, a
Snow Maiden. She looked so beautiful that they called her their ‘daughter’.
At that same moment, hiding and crackling
among the fir trees, was Grandfather Frost. He was an old winter god with
a long, white beard and he carried a great staff that was filled with
wonderful magic. He had overheard the couple and felt sorry for them. For
people who were kind and good always touched his heart. And so he raised
his great staff and suddenly the Snow Maiden came to life.
Some said the Snow Maiden was the
daughter of Grandfather Frost and Mother Snow, sent to comfort the couple
for a time. Others said she was really a spirit-princess come to earth.
Whatever her nature, she remained with the couple as a true and dutiful
daughter would be.
Now as spring approached and people began
to leave their houses, the Snow Maiden fell in love with a young man from
the village. But the price of surrendering her heart in love would be to
lose her human mortality. Grandfather Frost continued to watch her from a
distance for he knew what would soon happen to her.
One day she was walking with her beloved
through a birch wood. The youth played his flute; the Snow Maiden walked
beside him turning her face to the sun. Suddenly she gave the faintest
sigh and began to melt. She was still a creature of ice and snow and could
not stand the springtime sun. Soon there was nothing left but an icy mist,
drifting upward into the blue sky. The frail creature could not survive
the breath of spring.
But her spirit had leapt into the waiting
arms of Grandfather Frost and Mother Snow and they carried her away over
the stars to the far north where she plays all through the summer on the
But each year in winter, on the first day
of the New Year, Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden return to Russia.
And they continue to work their magic for those who are kind and good. And
they visit, in particular, the children, bringing them gifts and helping
them to make their dreams come true, as they did long ago for the
woodcutter and his wife.
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