In the Slavic culture there was a ritual: every year on the New Year people would sacrifice a young virgin to the spirit of Grandfather Frost. They would send her outside or tie to the tree and it’s her frozen corpse that later became known as the Snow Maiden. More optimistic Russian fairy tale tells that she was a girl made out of snow and a daughter of Father Frost and Mother Spring. She could never walk under the sun neither could she love. But she felt lonely in the forest among trees and animals and separated from young people and she always wanted to live with them. So Mother Spring sent her to live in the village and eventually taught her how to love. The moment she fell in love she melted like snow. This fairy tale reflects the myth of natural spirits that die when the season changes. Another legend tells that once Grandfather Frost found a girl almost frozen like icicle. He picked her up and thawed her and ever since then she was his granddaughter, a helper in doing good deeds and his loyal companion in his New Year’s adventures. To her we devote our New Year’s interview.
The Snow Maiden is a fairy tale character. How is the status of the Snow Maiden transferred in real life?
The status of the Snow Maiden can’t be passed on. We only have one Snow Maiden. In Kostroma, we have a competition in which young girls, from other regions, participate. I head this contest and the winning girl becomes my main assistant for that year. Last year’s winner was a girl from Moscow. She became the main assistant of the Snow Maiden from Kostroma. This year, we will also have a competition in the beginning of December. Grandfather Frost will, of course, be part of the jury along with other experts. The girls will compete in singing and dancing contests, in games with children as well as in a cooking show.
In fairy tales, Grandfather Frost is considered to be Snow Maiden’s grandfather. In real life, do you have any family ties?
Well, in the Russian fairy tales, I am not considered to be Grandfather Frost’s real granddaughter. Grandfather Frost found the Snow Maiden in the woods. Also, if you remember the fairy tale written by Aleksandr Nikolaevich Ostrovsky, Snow Maiden’s parents are Winter’s Frost and Spring. Therefore, I celebrate my birthday in April, in the very beginning of spring.
What do you do in summer?
I have a lot of things to do during summer. One of my most important summer occupations is my holidays at Grandfather Frost’s birthplace. I go there every year to work as a pioneer leader with children from Kostroma and to organize various events. In summer we have our municipal holiday which we celebrate with a rich entertainment program where kids are happy to see Father Frost. He visits us every year. Over all, we have a lot of summer events in Kostroma and, because we have registered the brand name of our city as “Fairytale Kostroma – the birthplace of the Snow Maiden”.
What qualities should the Snow Maiden possess to fulfill her role?
Most importantly, she must be natural and real. Many of the Snow Maidens have an acting talent, which is great. But the most important thing is to be good and kind to children.
Do you think that Grandfather Frost’s foreign colleagues should have female helpers? What do you think Santa Claus’ Snow Maiden would look like?
Indeed, we don’t see any such heroes as the Snow Maiden from the Russian fairy tales, in western mythology. However each hero still has a helper, maybe not a granddaughter, but most of them have a companion. For example, in Belgium, there is Vestfalli. And to answer the question of what the European Snow Maiden should be like, I think that first of all we need to consider the European mentality. A traditional image of a Snow Maiden wouldn’t be well perceived abroad. We live today in an era of modern technology and therefore, I think that, the Snow Maiden should also be modern, active and mobile.
Can you tell us, how can an adult keep on believing in the fairy tale?
Here you need to understand what a fairy tale is. For small children, the story about Grandfather Frost is a fairy tale, however adults believe in the existence of aliens, which is also a fairy tale. Therefore, a fairy tale stays with people throughout their lives.
In this pre-holiday time what would be the wishes from the Snow Maiden?
I would like to wish the young people to stay kids as long as possible. It’s important to always keep it in our hearts and souls, because childhood is the time of miracles. Life becomes much easier when we are able to feel even a little bit of warmth, happiness and joy from our childhood. I would also wish them to do good deeds which will improve not only the world around us but most importantly ourselves.