The Snow Maiden

The Snow Maiden

Once upon a time there lived an old man and woman. They lived in a tiny town at the edge of a great forest. They'd had a very happy life, always having plenty to eat, a roof over their heads, and many good friends.

The man had worked as a farmer and loved toiling on the land. The woman had kept house and cooked lovely meals. All in all, they felt they shouldn't complain about what life had given them.

They did, though, have one sorrow. They wished that they had children, but they had never been able to have any. So, here they were, getting on in years and feeling lonely without little ones about.

Then, one lovely winter day the couple saw some neighborhood children playing outside in the newly fallen snow. First, the children took turns on a little red sled, barreling down a small hill. Then, they attached makeshift snowshoes to their feet and they explored the area. Next, they lay down in the snow, waving their arms and legs, and made snow angels.

Although the man and woman enjoyed watching the lively, happy children, it made the disappointment of not having a child of their own stronger than ever. Finally, the old man turned to his wife and said, “I have an idea that might help us feel just a tiny bit better. Let's go outside and build a snowgirl — it will be like the daughter we never had.”

So the two worked together to build a snowgirl. They started by carefully forming her hands and feet. Then they turned their attention to her button nose, her small mouth, and her dimpled chin. Their efforts took some time, for they wanted the snowgirl to look just right. Finally, they stood back, satisfied with their work, and smiled at each other happily.

Just seconds after they finished, the snowgirl's lips suddenly turned rose red and her eyes began to open. She smiled warmly at the old couple, not at all surprised to be there, shook the spare flakes of crisp snow off her just-formed body, and emerged from the snowdrift as a pretty young girl!

The old couple were so happy. They couldn't believe their incredible good fortune, and they cried with joy as they hugged their new snow daughter. Then they took her into their hut and named her Snow Maiden.

Amazingly, their little Snow Maiden began to grow quickly, not by the day but rather by the hour. Before long, she became quite beautiful, and the old couple loved her more than they had ever thought possible. For the first time, they felt truly, completely happy.

The Snow Maiden was a lovely, willing child. She always did her chores, never complained, and was very affectionate. She would help her father bring in wood for the fire and help her mother prepare meals. She even learned to knit and crochet and to read a bit. She often told her parents how much she loved them.

Most of all, though, the Snow Maiden loved to spend a lot of time outdoors. She liked the feel of the cool breeze on her fair skin and enjoyed spending time with the small creatures of the forest.

So it went that winter passed, and soon the warm spring sun started to heat the land and bring about a thaw. The girl became quite depressed. She couldn't understand why she was feeling so sad.

“What's the matter?” the old couple would ask. “Are you not feeling well? Is there anything we can do to help you? We are worried about you.”

“No, I'm fine, Mother and Father. Please, do not worry,” she would reply, because she didn't want her parents to worry.

But there was no denying that something was wrong. Her parents could see it and so could the woodland creatures. No longer did the girl run and skip and sing when she came with their little treats. Now, she walked slowly and carefully, and the gleam was missing from her eyes.

Soon, the last of the winter's snow melted. Daffodils, crocus, and other flowers began to bloom in the meadows, giving vivid color to the arrival of spring.

When the larks started to sing, the girl became even sadder. And she would hide from the sun at every opportunity. “What is going on?” she wondered.

Just when it seemed winter was finished for the year, a cold day arrived and dark clouds moved through, bringing with them a flurry of hail. The girl rejoiced, looking at the stones of hail as if they were giant, precious pearls. But soon, spring temperatures prevailed, and the hail melted. Then, the Snow Maiden cried as if her heart would break.

Spring continued with the arrival of more birds, and the blossoming of many lovely plants. The Snow Maiden tried to enjoy herself and be good company to her kind parents.

Finally, though, summer arrived. One day a group of friendly girls called out to the Snow Maiden, “Come with us for a nice walk in the woods!”

The Snow Maiden didn't want to go, but her parents urged her on, saying, “Go play with them, dear. You'll have fun.” They worried that she was lonely, and they hoped she would enjoy the company of other young girls.

So she went reluctantly with the girls, who began collecting flowers, singing songs, and dancing. The Snow Maiden didn't join in, though, and wasn't having a very good time. She felt anxious and worried.

As the sun started to set and darkness grew, the other girls made a fire from some twigs they had collected. They continued to laugh and sing and tell stories, and the Snow Maiden could see how much fun the girls were having. Finally, she decided to join in. For the first time since winter, a smile formed on her face as she laughed, sang, and danced with the others. “This is fun,” she thought.

Then, one by one, the other girls began playfully jumping over the small twig fire they had built. The Snow Maiden jumped over when it was her turn, but halfway through her leap, she suddenly melted and turned into a white cloud. She disappeared into the air.

A faint good-bye was heard before the cloud rose up and disappeared into the heavens. The Snow Maiden was gone.

But her sad parents were not to worry, for she would return the following year. And, indeed she did, and every year after. In fact to this day, the Snow Maiden returns every winter to bring joy and love to a lonely family.

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