To speak of Russia is to speak of the country with the greatest geographical extension in the world, which has been the scene of a great number of important events throughout the ages. It is therefore a country with a long history, which has its own myths, legends and customs. That is why throughout this article we are going to talk about a small selection of the most well-known Russian myths, stories and legends.
7 interesting Russian legends
Below we show you a series of ten legends, myths and stories from Russia, some of which are also shared by other Slavic peoples.
1. The legend of the Matrioshka
Legend has it that there was once a humble carpenter named Serguei who needed wood to work. One day when he was having difficulty finding a valid wood, he found a perfect trunk which he took home.
Serguei did not know what to do with him, until one day the idea of making a doll came to mind. He did it with so much love and so beautiful that after finishing it he did not want to sell it, and gave it the name of Matrioshka. The young man greeted his creation every day, but one day and surprisingly it returned his greeting.
Little by little they established a communication and a good relationship, but one day the doll indicated her sadness because all the creatures had children, except her. The carpenter told her that if he wanted her she should remove the wood from inside, something she accepted.
Serguei made a smaller copy, which he called Trioska. But over time Trioska also wanted to have children, so with part of her wood she made another smaller version: Oska. The situation was repeated with her, with what Serguei would make one more doll, this time with a mustache and with a masculine aspect so that she did not have a maternal instinct. The latter would be called Ka. Then, he put each of the dolls inside his parent. Days later, however, and to the despair of Serguei, Matrioshka and all her offspring left and disappeared without further ado.
2. Baba Yaga
One of the best-known creatures of Russian and Slavic legends is the witch Baba Yaga, an elderly woman (although other versions consider her a goddess) who lives in the woods. The legend says that this being, which is said to feed on children, has iron teeth with which it can easily tear flesh.
However some of their representations are not always negative. It is said that it keeps the waters of life and death, and lives in a house which moves with huge legs of duck and in whose stockade can be seen numerous human skulls. Also that rejuvenates every time you drink a tea made with blue roses, rewarding whoever brings them. She is considered the representative of the boundary between life and death.
3. The ghost of Zhuzha
A relatively recent Russian legend, centered in Moscow, tells us about love and death.
The legend tells us about Zhuzha, a woman who for years had been in love with a millionaire. One day, while walking through Kuznetski Most, he heard a child delivering newspapers shouting that his beloved had taken his own life. Just when he got out of his carriage and went to look for more information, he was run over and died.
However, the days passed and the boy who sold the newspapers appeared dead and strangled with a woman’s half, the one Zhuzha wore on the day of his death. Soon those who had published the supposed death of the millionaire also died. Since then there have been several testimonies of the ghost that runs through Kuznetski Most, in Moscow. It is said about who sees it that it will possibly have the loss of a close male person.
4. The Legend of the Snow Lady
Like many other peoples facing frigid temperatures, Russians also have a legend that refers to the cold. In his case also refers to infidelity and betrayal. It is about the legend of Sgroya.
This apparently young and attractive woman is a furious spirit that hates the male gender due to the deception that her partner suffered, although in other versions she is a deity that punishes acts of infidelity.
Sgroya appears on the roads offering his attentions to the men who cross with her, seducing them. From accepting her invitations and kissing her, she will become an icicle and take her victim to death by freezing, or else she will drive her crazy.
5. The legend of the city of Kitezh
Some Russian legends tell us about the invasion that they suffered in antiquity on the part of the Mongols. Specifically, one of them refers to the disappearance of the city of Kítezh.
According to the legend, Prince Vladimir founded two cities, one called Maly Kitezh and another that would receive the name of Bolshoi Kitezh. However, the Mongols invaded the first one, making prisoners during the process, who ended up confessing how to get to the second.
Once they arrived at their surroundings, they saw that this city had no walls or defensive structure, and they attacked immediately. The desperate citizens prayed for their salvation. However, before the assailants arrived in the city, the waters were swallowed up, submerged in Lake Svetloyar and saving it from attack, as well as making it invisible. Since then it is said that only the purest can find this city.
6. Prince Ivan and Koschei the Immortal
Legend has it that Prince Ivan Tsarevitch promised his parents, before he died, that he would seek a husband for his three sisters. These are pretended by the Eagle, the Falcon and the Raven, with which they end up marrying and going to live.
With the passage of time the prince, alone, decides to undertake a trip in order to visit his sisters and brothers-in-law. On his way he meets the remains of an annihilated army, which had fallen before the power of the warrior Marya Morevna. The prince met this woman, falling in love and eventually getting married and going to live at home.
However, over time broke out a war in which Marya Morevna decides to participate, leaving the prince at home with the warning not to open his closet to exist in him a secret that must remain there. However the prince, curious, decided to open said closet. In it he found a chained man named Koschei, who asked for water. After giving it to him, he suddenly broke his chains and vanished magically, after which he kidnapped the prince’s wife.
The prince decides to go in his search, passing on his way through the houses of his sisters and brothers-in-law and leaving behind him various objects. He found the castle of Koschei and took his beloved, but was caught by the sorcerer and his swift horse. He returns to take Marya Morevna, forgiving the prince because he had quenched his thirst when he was chained. The prince repeated the rescue twice more, being always caught by the sorcerer, and in the recipe occasion it ended up dismembering him and throwing him into the sea.
However, Ivan’s brothers-in-law observed that the objects that he left them, of silver, darkened, to which they went and later managed to bring him back to life thanks to the waters of life and death. The prince then went to Baba Yaga to give him a horse faster than Koschei, to which the witch decides that if she manages to watch her mares three days she would give it to him, although otherwise she would kill him. He managed, with the help of several animals (which had promised to help him if he did not eat them), his task despite the fact that the witch had rigged it. However, she wanted to kill him anyway, something that made Ivan steal the horse and flee.
After the steed, Ivan rescues his wife and during the flight kills Koschei with a kick from his horse. After that, he dismembers the body and sets the pieces on fire. Once free, the couple was able to return home and live happily.
7. The seven giants of the Urals
One of the considered natural wonders of Russia is Man-Pupu-Nyor, which also has its own legend.
Legend has it that the mansi people lived in those mountains. The village leader had two sons, one of whom was a girl who fell in love with one of the giants in the area, named Torev. He asked her father for his hand, but the father refused.
Furious, the giant called five brothers and together with them he tried to kidnap the girl and started attacking the town. The inhabitants fled, asking for help from the spirits. The next day the other of the leader’s sons commanded a group of warriors to confront them, bringing the young man a magical sword granted by the spirits and a shield.
The young man raised the sword, and from it came a light that turned the six giants into stone, but against its use implied that its bearer would also do so. This explains why there are seven mounds observable in the Urals.