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снегурочка /snegurochka/ - a Snow Maiden

In the Russian Christmas tradition  Father Christmas  is always accompanied by his granddaughter. Her name is Snegurochka a snow maiden. She usually wears  a  blue fur coat and a crown. Russian snow maiden   is blonde, slim and very kind. Snegurochka travels with her grandfather and helps him to distribute gifts among children. This is a unique character; nowhere except Russia  Santa Claus (or "Father Frost" as we call him) is accompanied by a  pretty granddaughter.

The image of Snegurochka goes back to the pagan times. There was a Russian fairy tale about a peasant couple who had no children.  Onу day a miracle happened a snow sculpture came alive to become their adoptive daughter. Snegurochka brought lots of joy to her parents but she didn't live a long life.  She was challenged by the village children to jump over the bonfire and melted.  In 1873 a famous Russian playwright Ostrovsky wrote 'The Winter Tale', or 'Snegurochka'. That was a story of a snow girl who dreamed of falling in love with a man. Her mother let her dream come true but the maiden melted as love came into her heart.  

Ostrovsky play was very popular, it was often performed at Christmas parties. The snow maiden was often depicted on Christmas cards, little figures of her were made to decorate Christmas tree. But only in the Soviet times Father Frost was given a granddaughter. After the Revolution The Christmas holidays were banned for about 20 years. Only in 1935 the Soviet government understood the importance of the winter holidays for children. Christmas celebrations were brought back but with one major change: they were moved to the New Year and became New Year's parties. In 1937 Father Frost came to the New Year party with his granddaughter.  Since then Snegurochka has always participated in the Russian New Year celebrations.
While having a winter tour of Moscow you can come to experience Russian New Year performances.

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