"A long time ago in the forests of Russia there lived a peasant by the name of Ivan with his wife, Maria. Although they loved each other very much and had many friends, they were unhappy because they had no children.
|They built a child made a snow.|
One winter day, they watched the village children build a snowman. "Let's build a snowman, too!," said Ivan. And they proceeded to craft a pretty little maiden out of snow. Struck with their creation, Ivan said, "Little snowmaiden, speak to me." Maria exclaimed, "Yes, come to life so you can romp and play like the other children!" Before their very eyes, Snegurochka became a real girl. "I have come from the land of winter, ice and snow," said the little girl. She ran and hugged them. There was joyous singing, dancing and celebrating in the village that night. All that long Russian winter Snegurochka romped and played with the other children. Everyone loved her. She, Ivan and Maria were very happy.
Then one day, when the first signs of spring appeared, Snegurochka came to Ivan and Maria, and with tear-filled eyes told them that she must go away, up North to the land of snow. They begged her to stay. Upset, Ivan jumped up and shut the door to the hut so the snowmaiden couldn't leave, and Maria hugged her tight. But as she held the little girl, the child melted away. Ivan and Maria wept bitterly.
|Sveta as Snegurochka|
All spring and summer they were lonely. Summer turned into fall and fall into winter and once again it was cold and icy outside. One night a familiar voice was heard. "Mother! Father! Open the door! The snow has brought me back once more!" Ivan threw open the door and Snegurochka ran into their arms. All that winter she lived with them and played with the other village children. But in the spring she had to go back North, whence she had come. This time Ivan and Maria did not weep, knowing she would return once more when winter appeared on the land. And so it was that the snowmaiden brought warmth and joy to Ivan and Maria during the long, cold, Russian winter for many, many, many years."
|With a little bird friend.|
|Beneath it all.|
There is also the story of the ancient Slavic pagan goddess Mara. She is the goddess of Winter and Death, and most likely the predecessor of Snegurochka. What tales were lost in Christianity, remain alive in the Russian fairytales. Mara has many other names and can also be known as Marais, the Goddess of Frozen Rivers.
|She learned to spin, sew and knit.|
|Sveta in the Summer Dress (Sarafan)|
I've had a love affair with all things Russian as a long as I can remember. I've been learning so very much about Russian culture since becoming friends with Svetlana. One of the interesting things I've learned about are their Christmas traditions. For one thing, they do not celebrate Christmas as we know it. During the October Revolution, Christmas was banned from Russia due its religious content. It was then that they began to celebrate New Years as we would Christmas. Around the 1930's, Snegurochka became a part of the seasonal characters along with the existing Grandfather Frost. She is seen in parades with Grandfather Frost, children get Snow Maiden dolls for the holiday, and adult costumes can be purchased for parties. She is loved, honored and treasured as much as our own Santa Claus.
|Catching the snow flakes.|
Its interesting to me to see how folk costumes are made in a different country. The Russian soul, the depth of it, and the opulence of art and architecture exist throughout their poetry, their paintings, their fairytale books (Genedy Spirin of note), the ballet...and it simply goes on. This enchantment seems to be run in their veins, passed down through generations. As modern a country as Russia may be, the beauty and lore of old is held high and exists with the new side by side. And, through the beautiful story of Snegurochka, a friendship was wrought.
So in this second blog posting for New Year (do read the one prior to this as it was just written today), we celebrate the Russian New Year (Christmas) in Snow Maiden fashion. If you've never picked up a book on Russian fairytales, you must! They are fabulous.
Please enjoy the selected photos I posted from the near 150 I saved off for this celebration post. And, Happy New Year!
Miss E. Mouse
|A pagan goddess with veil.|
|Russian jacquard from Svetlana's collection.|
|The ornament she gave me.|
|The ornament she kept.|
|Snegurochka and Granfather Frost|
|A friend of wooland creatures.|
|The stunning doll that inspired me.|
|In red like her ornament.|
|In paper doll form.|
|A gentle maiden from a storybook.|
|The Russian Ballet|
|Sveta wishes you a Happy New Year|