Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.
Many American parents remind their kids to behave because Santa is watching them and will bring them coal and whips if they aren't. This is a cautionary tale that encourages good conduct. In Russian, many parents tell their children stories about Baba Yaga to keep them on the straight and narrow. Baba Yaga literally means 'Grandmother Jadwiga.' Let's find out more about Baba Yaga.
Baba Yaga is a thin, ugly, old witch with a long nose and iron teeth. Instead of flying on a broomstick, Baba Yaga flies in a mortar and uses the pestle to guide her movements. A mortar and pestle is a small cup and grinding tool used in the kitchen or by an apothecary to prepare spices or medications.
She lives in a log cabin that stands (and moves) on chicken legs. Her home is surrounded by a fence made of skeletal parts and topped with human skulls with illuminated eye sockets. The keyhole is made of sharp teeth. Sometimes it is portrayed as windowless and other times it is portrayed as having 2 windows that serve as eyes.
Stories of Baba Yaga are told by parents to keep children close to home, but the stories are also used to teach children to be polite, respectful, and kind as these character traits render Baba Yaga powerless in her attempts to kidnap and eat children. When she is approached with a pure heart, there are stories where she helps people, as well.
Vasilisa the Beautiful
One of the most popular fairytales featuring Baba Yaga is 'Vasilisa the Beautiful' in which Vasilisa is ordered by a cruel stepmother to find light. Vasilisa goes to Baba Yaga's chicken hut, and Baba Yaga forces her to work to earn the fire with the threat of death. Vasilisa completes her work, but is thrown out of Baba Yaga's house with the light when Vasilisa credits her success to her mother's blessing.
This story illustrates how the blessing of a mother shields the pure of heart from Baba Yaga's evil. While providing some treacherous moments along the way, ultimately Baba Yaga helps Vasilisa achieve her goal and bring light to her family.
Baba Yaga is a character that is featured in Russian folklore, as well as in a number of Russian fairytales. Literally, Baba Yaga translates into meaning 'Grandmother Jadwiga.' The witch-like character is used by parents to encourage their children to stay close to home and behave themselves. Baba Yaba is an elderly woman with a long nose and iron teeth who kidnaps and threatens to eat young children. She lives in a log cabin that walks on chicken legs and is surrounded by a fence made of human skeletons. She travels about by riding in a mortar and pestle. Characters such as Vasilisa the Beautiful who are pure of heart and have the blessing of their mother are immune to Baba Yaga's power. In cases like these, Baba Yaga actually helps people achieve their goals, but must be approached with extreme caution.
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