The residence of Ded Moroz (grandfather Frost, or Santa Claus) is known to all, it’s in Veliky Ustyug, the Vologda region. Russian Snowmaiden Snegurochka is supposed to live with him. But she doesn’t. The “family nest” of Father Frost and Mother Spring, parents of beautiful Snegurochka, are claimed two seats. The first supposed residence – the Shchelykovo estate, Kostroma region, where Russian playwright Alexander Ostrovsky wrote his play “The Snow Maiden” (1873), based on the old fairy tale. But the village of Abramtzevo where Viktor Vasnetsov painted his ice beauty is also considered the residence of Snegurochka. Here the artist has created the sets for the first theatrical production by Ostrovsky and again in Abramtzevo on stage of home theater of Savva Mamontov was first performed the opeara “Snegurochka” by Rimsky – Korsakov.
The Opera was enthusiastically received by Ostrovsky: “Music to my “Snegurochka” is amazing, I could not ever imagine a more suitable and so vividly expressing the poetry of Russian pagan cult. Snegurochka, cold and calm at first, and then irresistibly passionate heroine”. And Rimsky-Korsakov said, “I made a belief that “The Snow Maiden” is my best work”.
Unique image of Snow Maiden belongs completely to Russian culture, mythology of other peoples of the world doesn’t have female Christmas characters. In Russian folklore, Snegurochka appears as a character of a folk tale about a girl made of snow, who came to life.
Further development of Snegurochka image received in the works of teachers of late XIX – early XX century, who prepared scripts for children’s New Year parties. Even before the revolution with Snegurochka figures were decorated Christmas trees, the girls dressed up in costumes of Snegurochka, made staging fragments of tales, Ostrovsky’s play or opera.
The modern image Snegurochka received in 1935 in the Soviet Union, after authorization of New Year celebrations. In the books on the organization of New Year parties Snegurochka accompanies Ded Moroz (Santa Claus) as his granddaughter, facilitator and mediator in the dialogue between him and the children.
In early 1937 Ded Moroz first appeared together on a New Year’s tree in the Moscow House of Unions. It is curious that in the early Soviet Snegurochka images she was often depicted as a little girl, and an adult girl began to represent her later.
In the postwar period Snegurochka – almost obligatory companion of Ded Moroz in all the festivities, congratulations, etc. The role of Snow Maiden was often performed by university students and theater actresses. In amateur productions for the role of Snow Maidens were chosen older girls and women, mostly blonde.
In 1968, the famous actor Pavel Kadochnikov made the film-tale based on the play by Alexander Ostrovsky. The main role in this film played a graduate of the Shchukin Theater School 22-year-old Evgenia Filonova. It was her first, and in fact the only film role.
The film was shot on the river Mera and around the estate of Ostrovsky – Shchelykovo. On the river Mera was built a whole village of Berendeys. After completing filming wooden decorations were transferred closer to Kostroma, thus the park “Berendeevka” appeared. In addition, there is Terem of Snegurochka, in which she welcomes guests all year round. Over the years, Kostroma has been perceived as “Berendeevo kingdom”.
Russian New Year fairy tale “Snowmaiden Snegurochka”
Once upon a time there lived a couple of peasants – an old man and an old woman. They were quite happy, though childless. One day the peasant woman looked out the window to watch the children play in the snow. She had only one wish to have her own child. The old man suggested to his wife that they should go outside and make a snowman, instead of sitting in the house all day. The wife agreed, but she wanted to make a girl — a Snow Maiden.
They spent that whole day carefully 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. While they were watching they suddenly noticed the snow maiden was smiling. The couple then realized that she was coming to life. After she smiled her hair curled up and she started walking. The happy couple came back home with their gorgeous daughter Snegurochka. The snow maiden grew up incredibly 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, Snegurochka 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 his wife began to worry about her.
Soon summer came and Snegurochka 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 with the persistence of her parents went along. In the woods Snegurochka tried to stay in the shade. When nightfall came her friends built a fire, and played games jumping over it. Snegurochka, however, sat by an icy river. Her friends persuaded 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 to her. Snegurochka took a step, ran towards the fire, jumped, and melted away, turning into a white cloud. The cloud disappeared in the sky.