Father Frost: Russian Fairy Tale & Folklore

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will examine the Russian fairy tale 'Father Frost' from Andrew Lang's 'Yellow Fairy Book.' Further, we will discuss how the character evolved from Russian folklore into a central figure of the Russian holiday season.

Origins

Think about some of the horrific images of stepmothers from traditional Hans Christian Anderson and Grimm fairytales. When it comes to wicked characters in fairy tales, Russian and Slavic legends are equally dreadful. In the Russian fairy tale 'Father Frost' that was translated and recorded in Andrew Lang's Yellow Fairy Book, the evil stepmother forces her husband to send his own daughter to her death at the hands of Father Frost, a legendary character who has evolved from the ancient Russian Morozko and the Slavic wizard, Ded Moroz. Let's examine the folklore and fairy tale of 'Father Frost.'

Ded Moroz and Morozko

Before Father Frost, there was Ded Moroz. So, who is Ded Moroz?

Ded Moroz is like Santa Claus to Slavic people. This character rides a horse-drawn sleigh with his granddaughter, Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden, and an evergreen tree as he delivers presents to children on New Year's. In the summer, he spends time at his home in Veliky Ustyug, reading letters from children.

Ded Moroz is based on Morozko, an ancient Russian hero who could freeze water with 'iron frosts.' People would offer him meals of oatmeal or rice to keep him from freezing their plants.

In the earliest times, Ded Moroz not only rewarded nice and industrious people, but also punished mean and lazy people. In folklore, he is credited with kidnapping children or orphaning them by killing their mother if not provided with gifts.

At one time, Ded Moroz was banned by the Bolsheviks, as Soviet Leaders thought of him as a religious symbol, but he returned to Russia in the late 1990s.

The Fairytale

According to the fairy tale, an evil stepmother and her daughter lived in Russia with her husband and his daughter. The stepmother neglects and mistreats her stepdaughter until one day she says to her husband, 'Now, old man, I want thee to take thy daughter away from my eyes, away from my ears. Thou shalt not take her to thy people into a warm izba.' An izba is a Russian country home. 'Thou shalt take her into the wide, wide fields to the crackling frost.'

While this saddens the man, he follows his wife's commands and takes his daughter in a sleigh to the woods where he leaves her. When Father Frost approaches her, the girl is so polite that instead of freezing her, he brings her a trunk filled with fines clothing, including a schouba, which is an overcoat lined in fur, silk quilts, and a blue sarafan, which is a beautiful pinafore that is decorated with silver and pearls.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support