Smarty Pants Podcast

The Snow Maiden

Our final episode of 2018 is a send-off to the solstice

By Stephanie Bastek | December 21, 2018
<em>Snow Maiden</em> (1899), Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov (Wikimedia Commons)
Snow Maiden (1899), Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov (Wikimedia Commons)

The Snow Maiden—not to be confused with the Snow Queen, Snow White, or Frosty the Snow Man—is a popular Slavic folktale about an elderly couple and a miraculous child born from snow. In addition to being a charming story about the passing of seasons, it references a number of folk rituals, from jumping over fires on the summer solstice to mock funerals marking the Yuletide. Philippa Rappoport, a lecturer in Russian culture at George Washington University, explains how folktales and rituals overlap, and reads aloud her own version of this wintry tale.

This is our last episode of the year, and we want to hear from you about 2019! If there are any subjects or guests you would especially like to hear on the show, send us an email at podcast@theamericanscholar.org. And, of course, help us find more listeners by rating us on iTunes and telling all your friends.


Go beyond the episode:

  • Read six versions of “The Snow Maiden,” classified by folklorist D. L. Ashliman as tales of “type 703,” or, relatedly, nine different spins from across Europe on “The Snow Child” (“type 1362 and related stories about questionable paternity”)
  • Watch the 1952 animated film The Snow Maiden, based on the Rimsky-Korsakov opera of the same name
  • Listen to Kristjan Järvi conduct an excerpt from Tchaikovsky’s Snow Maiden with the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.

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Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!

Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

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