Fairy tales let us have a bit of break from the chaos of the real world by providing non-linear and non-rational possibilities. Good fairy tales also show how the main character uses the advice or magical tools served by other magical creatures to good advantage. Many times, magical advice comes to the person who is good to someone in need. There is a good lesson in it.
Fairy tales teach a moral or at least offer some sort of ethical or common sense message. They are stories told to us early that open up our imaginations and although they are not always happy-ending, it is still important because life in the real world is not always happy and we cannot always get what we want.
Fairy tales are often equalized with the impossible, say magic. Through ordinary characters, who are no different than us, these tales show how even the impossible can be made possible. They will give us hope and motivate us to follow our dreams.
Russian Fairy Tales
Although fairy tales are initially stories created for children, they actually hold much more cultural literacy than we give them credit for. They often reflect the beliefs of a people, their moral compass, and also their incredible imagination. Russian people are no strangers to fairy tales and reading them to their children is part of the journey of raising them. Here is a list of 5 famous Russian fairy tales every native Russian knows and that are deeply ingrained in their collective conscience.
1. Father Frost
Father Frost, or known as Morozko, is the typical fairy tale in which the stepmother hates the stepdaughter and insists the father get rid of her. This story is very popular in Russian fairy tales as well as in Russian culture.
It starts off with the stepmother luring her husband to send his daughter into the fields during winter and abandon her there. The husband listens to his wicked wife and leaves his daughter there. In the woods, the daughter meets Morozko or Father Frost who is the embodiment of winter and cold. He appears as an old, grumpy-looking man. When the daughter meets him, she treats him well, so he returns her affability with a treasure chest and a blanket.
Later that day, the daughter goes home. The dog comes to tell her family that their daughter is heading home. The stepmother is infuriated and insists her husband once again to send his daughter back and abandons her again. This time, the daughter is furious and when she meets Father Frost, she does not treat him nicely like before. Father Frost is angry that she is so rude to him, so he freezes her to death. When her father goes around looking for her body, the dog tells him that she is dead. He then heads home with his dead, frozen daughter, and the story ends with the stepmother bawling her eyes out.
2. Baba Yaga the Witch and Vasilisa the Fair
If you are into scary stories, then this one is for you. Baba Yaga is a famous witch of the East in Russia. She has spooked and frightened children across Eastern Europe for many a year. She appears in several stories told with improvisations depending upon the source. However, the most popular story in which she appears is Baba Yaga the Witch and Vasilisa the Fair. The story tells about Vasilisa who is sent by her wicked stepmother to visit Baba Yaga the witch in her hut in the woods and ask for some magic fire. The stepmother is pretty sure that it will be the last time she ever sees her stepdaughter for it is not an easy job. Long story short, Baba Yaga agrees to help if Vasilisa can finish tasks to the witch’s satisfaction. Vasilisa, with the help of invisible servants, a magic doll, three riders that mark the passage of time, can finish the tasks and is given the magic fire.
3. The Tale of Ivan Tsarevich, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf
It is a classic Russian fairy tale. It tells the story about Tsar Berendey who has given his three sons the job of finding out who keeps stealing their golden apples from their garden. Ivan is his youngest son and he is succeeded in finding out that the Firebird is the culprit. He and his brothers all go off to catch the bird. Ivan also has helps from his sidekick, the gray wolf.
4. Kashchey the Immortal
Kashchey is an evil wizard that likes to kidnap beautiful women, especially those of noble birth. Many heroes have gone in search of him and lucky for them, he does not live up to his name. He is not that immortal. In one story, there is a way to kill him, but it is so long and enigmatic that no one is able to do it. In order to kill him, one needs to find an unnamed island and on that island, they must find a tree which under that tree is a chest. Inside that chest is a rabbit and inside the rabbit is a duck and inside the duck is an egg and inside the egg is Kashchey’s death, whatever it is.
Kolobok is a piece of dough. The story tells about a round piece of dough left on the window by an old lady. The dough has a mind of its own so it rolls out the window. On its journey, it encounters various animals. The dough tells them how great it is at escaping. Very soon though, the dough is outsmarted by a cunning fox who uses flattery to make the dough onto its nose and the fox eats him. The moral value of the story is do not get too cocky for whatever you have done because it may backfire.
So, those are 5 famous Russian fairy tales every native Russian knows. Which one is your favorite?