Snegurochka

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A bit of Soviet animation in the blog: this is Snegurochka from The Snow Maiden, 1952 (directed by I. Ivanov-Vano)

The Snow Maiden is based on the traditional Russian tale about a girl made of  snow, who tried to live among normal people. The tale ends unhappily: Snegurochka melts from warmth of a fire (or love, in different versions). 

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Снегу́рочка (The Snow Maiden)

50 in x of animated feature film history
Release: 1952
Country: Soviet Union
Director: Ivan Ivanov-Vano, Aleksandra Snezhko-Blotskaya

“The Snow Maiden is based on the Slavic-pagan play of the same name by Aleksandr Ostrovsky (itself largely based on traditional folk tales). Music from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera The Snow Maiden is used, arranged for the film by L. Shvarts.

Snegurochka––The Snow Maiden––is the daughter of Spring the Beauty (Весна-Красна) and Ded Moroz (Father Frost), and yearns for the companionship of mortal humans. She grows to like a shepherd named Lel, but her heart is unable to know love, not helped by the fact that Lel claims to love her one moment and abandons her the next. Her mother takes pity and gives her the ability to love, but as soon as she falls in love, her heart warms and she melts, happy to have known love.”

(source)

The Snow Maiden is available on YouTube with English subtitles.

Djed Mraz, Ded Moroz, Moroz, Morozko (Grandfather Frost, Old Man Frost)

So I’ve always been interested in who exactly Djed Mraz is, because his name is the same in all Slavic languages and just because of this fact I was sure he predated what is today known as Djed Mraz which is basically the western Santa Claus. I finally did some research today and altho I could not find much information this is what I was able to put together.
Djed Mraz was not the goody-goody that brings presents to children like it is believed today, he was actually a giant snow demon whose very presence would freeze breath, rivers, lakes and seas and was fond of icing people. I found this Russian fairy tale (click for link) in which he appears and it reminded me of a German fairy tale I read as a child called Frau Holle (Gramdmother Holle,Mother Hulda) as it has very similar plot. Frau Holle is believed to bring snow in Germany by making her bed. (link for German fairy tale)

So they are both creatures that represent winter.
Djed Mraz also has  granddaughter Snegurochka and is a female counterpart unique for Slavic Mythology. She wears blue frock and furry hat or a snowflake crown. 

Altho I haven’t found this tale I have read that in one fairy tale she is the daughter of father Djed Mraz and goddess of Spring Vesna (Vesna-Krasna - Spring the Beauty) and she wishes for company of mortals so her mother gives her ability to love, but as soon as she falls in love her heart warms and she melts to her death.

I’m not certain, because I don’t know who the artist is, but I believe the image above represents either Djed Mraz with Snegurochka or him and Vesna, but I reckon it’s Vesna because of the flower wraith in her hair and her dress.

Snow Maiden (1899) by Victor Vasnetsov

Snow girl

Snegurochka, also known as the Snow Maiden or Snowy, is a unique character of Russian folklore and an essential part of Russian New Year’s celebrations. The origins of Snegurochka are contradictory. The roots of this feminine character can be found in Slavic pagan beliefs. According to legend, she is the daughter of Father Frost and the Snow Queen.

However, another Russian fairy-tale tells a story of an old man and woman who had always regretted that they did not have any children. In winter they made a girl out of snow. The snow maiden came alive and became the daughter they never had. They called her Snegurochka. But when the summer sun began to warm the land, the girl became very sad.

One day she went into the woods with a group of village girls to pick flowers. It began to get dark and the girls made a fire and began playfully jumping over the flames. Snegurochka also jumped, but suddenly she melted and turned into a white cloud.

In some parts of Russia people still follow the ancient tradition of drowning a straw figure in the river or burning it on the bonfire to dispel the winter. This custom symbolizes the transition from winter to spring.

Snegurochka is forever young and beautiful. According to the legend the old man and woman who made her from snow used two deep blue beads for eyes, made two dimples in her cheeks, and used a piece of red ribbon for her mouth. Snegurochka was very beautiful, but when she came to life, she was even better. Snegurochka is often depicted with snow white skin, deep sky-blue eyes, cherry lips and curly fair hair.

Originally Snegurochka wore only white garments and a crown, decorated with silver and pearls. Her present day costume is blue, red, white or silver and her crown is sometimes replaced by an embroidered cap with fur edging. She is probably one of the most attractive female characters in Russian culture.

Snegurochka is said to live deep in the winter forest. Snegurochka’s modern place of residence is quite real - it’s the Russian city of Veliky Ustyug (in the fairytale, her origins are in the Russian city of Kostroma). Nowadays, Father Frost is considered to be her grandfather rather than her father, as in the old legend.

Snegurochka (rus. Снегурочка, derived from “Snow Maiden”, also known as Snegurka, Snezjevichka) — one of the most well-known characters from russian folklore, a girl made from snow. It is likely that the image of Snegurochka was originally associated with the seasons cycle and the processes of nature’s death/resurrection (analogically with Kupala and Kostroma), but later the character has transformed from mythological to entirely folkloristic. According to the story, Snezjevichka was made as a snowman and then animated and transformed into a real living girl. She doesn’t lose any properties of the snow, though, therefore any heat, fire, or even sunlight (in some variations) are fatal to Snegurochka.
Much later the folklore image of Snegurochka has been reinterpreted in plays, operas, cinematograph. As a result, from the late XIXs  — early XXs she has been inevitably associated with the celebration of the New Year and depicted as a constant companion (and, surprise-mothefuckers, granddaughter) of a Ded Moroz.

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animated gals - Snegurochka
Снегу́рочка (The Snow Maiden)

1952
Soviet Union
Ivan Ivanov-Vano, Aleksandra Snezhko-Blotskaya 

filed under: Soviet Union, 1950s, supernatural