Fascinating Russian Folklore

Each country has its own collection of whimsical stories that have been passed down from one generation to the next. Some of these stories are merely meant to intrigue and entertain and most of them are meant to educate. Russian folklore does not contain any stories of actual fairies, but it does contain several spirit creatures and many heroes and heroines. It also tends to make use of animals that talk and behave like humans, magic and superstitions. It also makes use of soldiers who are journeying home and who encounter good or bad fortune along the way.

When the story follows the exploits of a young heroine, it usually starts with her setting out to complete a simple chore such as picking mushrooms. Her adventure centers around her ability to perform certain tasks – usually household tasks such as cleaning, cooking, weaving and spinning. It will also usually test her knowledge of proper behavior and her ethics. Performing these tasks will usually enable her to reach some magical place where the story will climax and her good actions will enable her to find a husband or acquire a dowry. An example of a story with a female hero is “The Tale of Baba Yaga”.

When the story follows the adventure of a male hero, it always starts by him leaving his home on a quest. He is not expected to perform tasks though he may have magical helpers who will do the necessary work for him. He too, is expected to know how to behave properly. In rare cases he may take matters into his own hands and set about performing certain tasks himself. An example of a story with a male hero is “The Tale About the Apples of Youth and the Living Water.”

The animals in animal stories are typecast so each character is easily understood by the audience. For example, wolves are all greedy, stupid and male, while foxes are sly, tricky and female. All the animal characters behave according to their nature and roles and some may attempt to eat other animals or even humans. Some of these stories are meant to educate, others to entertain. Not all of them have a moral and not all of them are appropriate for children.

Clearly there is a strong legacy of folklore in Russia for both young and old to enjoy. Whether you’re learning about the exploits of characters like Ilya Muromets, Dobrynya Nikitich, Alyosha Popovich, Svyatogor, Nightingale the Robber, Bogatyr, Bylina, learning about the wretched exploits of spirits like Koschei, Baba Yaga, Leshiy, Domovoi, Kikimora or discovering the secret world of speaking animals, you will discover that a journey into the world of Russian Folklore is unique and inspiring.


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