The story of Old Man Winter – “Morozko”


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In doing some research into the story of Morozko I found two versions. The first version is a lot more livelier and the second it bit more realistic. It probably the reason a movie was made about the first and not the second. The second of which I will share with you here tells more of a story about the condition of the heart. It’s about bitterness, envy, love, and compassion. In the end it shares “what you reap is what you sow”. Enjoy.

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Once there lived an old widower and his daughter. In due time, the man remarried to an older woman who had a daughter herself from a previous marriage. The woman doted on her own daughter, praising her at every opportunity, but she despised her stepdaughter

She found fault with everything the girl did and made her work long and hard all day long.

One day the old woman made up her mind to get rid of the stepdaughter once and for all. She ordered her husband:

“Take her somewhere so that my eyes no longer have to see her, so that my ears no longer have to hear her. And don’t take her to some relative’s house. Take her into the biting cold of the forest and leave her there.”

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The old man grieved and wept but he knew that he could do nothing else; his wife always had her way. So he took the girl into the forest and left her there. He turned back quickly so that he wouldn’t have to see his girl freeze.

Oh, the poor thing, sitting there in the snow, with her body shivering and her teeth chattering! Then Morozko (the Father Frost), leaping from tree to tree, came upon her. “Are you warm, my lass?” he asked.

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“Welcome, my dear Morozko. Yes, I am quite warm,” she said, even though she was cold through and through.

At first, Morozko had wanted to freeze the life out of her with his icy grip. But he admired the young girl’s stoicism and showed mercy. He gave her a warm fur coat and downy quilts before he left. In a short while, Morozko returned to check on the girl.

“Are you warm, my lass?” he asked.

“Welcome again, my dear Morozko. Yes, I am very warm,” she said.

And indeed she was warmer. So this time Morozko brought a large box for her to sit on. A little later, Morozko returned once more to ask how she was doing. She was doing well now, and this time Morozko gave her silver and gold jewelry to wear, with enough extra jewels to fill the box on which she was sitting!

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Meanwhile, back at her father’s hut, the old woman told her husband to go back into the forest to bring back the body of his daughter. He did as he was ordered. He arrived at the spot where had left her, and was overjoyed when he saw his daughter alive, wrapped in a sable coat and adorned with silver and gold. When he arrived home with his daughter and the box of jewels, his wife looked on in amazement.

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“Harness the horse, you old goat, and take my daughter to that same spot in the forest and leave her there,” she said.

The old man did as he was told. Like the other girl at first, the old woman’s daughter began to shake and shiver. In a short while, Morozko came by and asked her how she was doing.

“Are you blind?” she replied. “Can’t you see that my hands and feet are quite numb? Curse you, you miserable old man!” Dawn had hardly broken the next day when, back at the old man’s hut, the old woman woke her husband and told him to bring back her daughter, adding:

the return

“Be careful with the box of jewels.” The old man obeyed and went to fetch the girl. A short while later, the gate to the yard creaked. The old woman went outside and saw her husband standing next to the sleigh. She rushed forward and pulled aside the sleigh’s cover. To her horror, she saw the body of her daughter, frozen by an angry Morozko. She began to scream and berate her husband, but it was all in vein. Later, the old man’s daughter married a neighbor, had children, and lived happily. Her father would visit his grandchildren now and then, and remind them always to respect Old Man Winter

 

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9 thoughts on “The story of Old Man Winter – “Morozko”

      1. Triple Aspects seem to be showing up everywhere! In many of the old cultures, stories or an oral tradition were used to communicate knowledge that was greater than the sum of its parts 🙂

      2. Yeah, especially in old Celtic lore. a triple aspect crops up everywhere. Shamanism, Wicca, Celtic lore etc. Its a common form of symbology. If you look at the Goddess, she can be in the form of the Maid, Mother and Crone.

  1. What wonderful illustrations, too!
    I suspect the form of the tale is the traditional two-part form: chiasmus. Where each half echoes the other but with changed intent.
    That the story begins with just father and daughter, and ends with daughter and family is also indicative of sophisticated ring structure. The three main elements of the story are tied together – the central section where the daughter and Morozko meet three times and exchange pleasantries and gifts has its own structure, but echoes back to father-daughter and daughter-own family. The ‘fortune’ theme gives family, good character, and children as the three tie-ins.
    Very interesting!

    1. That is very perceptive insight to the story. There is some other things that interlace into the story as well. The first being that the sleigh is led by three horses of which I’d like to find some background information if possible. The second is that in reading the history I came across where this was all supposed to take place. That being to the northeast of Moscow in a town called Velikiy Ustyug which is very close to the confluence of three rivers. The Sukhona, Yug, and NOrthern Dvina all of which I believe have some significance. Thanks for your comments.

  2. Pingback: Life in Russia

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