Halloween special: Russian evil creatures
Halloween is not as widely celebrated in Russia as it is in Western Europe and North America. Nevertheless, Russians do love their scary stories and have plenty of their own… Here is the proof.
Baba Yaga (Баба Яга)
Slavic folklore is full of spooky creatures. Baba Yaga is, perhaps, the most famous evil character from the stories. It is fair to say that there isn’t a single Russian who has never heard about Baba Yaga.
Baba Yaga is a ferocious looking woman, with a long ugly nose and even uglier teeth. The word ‘Baba’ means ‘grandmother’ or an old woman. Essentially, she is a witch with a broom. The difference is that she flies around in a mortar and kidnaps little children in order to eat them. She also lives deep into Russian forest, in a hut that stands on two giant chicken legs and can even walk! Her fence is topped with human skulls of her victims. All in all, she is no lady to mess with!
A story about Baba Yaga is a popular one to tell children so they behave themselves. She is also a very controversial character: she is not good, but is not entirely evil. She can be portrayed as a very easy-going person who does not mean harm but has to stay evil.
A myth about vodyanoy who lives in murky waters of swamps, rivers and ponds, also originates from a Slavic folklore. Covered in algae and mud, this creature with a flog-like face likes nothing more than dragging innocent victims in water. He has webbed paws instead of hands, a fish tail and bright red eyes. Vodyanoy is pretty powerless on land but virtually invincible in water. Anyone entering water after sunset, on a holy day or without having first made the sign of a cross risks being attacked by him.
Zmei Gorynych (Змей Горыныч)
Zmei Gorynych is a three-headed Slavic dragon who lives in the mountains. Zmei Gorynych appears in a number of fairy tales, myths and legends, and his opponent is usually an epic hero, a bogatyr named Dobrynya Nikitich (Добрыня Никитич). Zmei Gorynych, unlike any other dragons can talk.
Koschei the Deathless (Кощей Бессмертный)
Koshei the Deathless is somewhat an evil wizard who steals young brides and locks them in a castle. He is famous for… well not being able to die. To be completely honest, he can die but to kill him you need to find a needle, which is inside an egg, which is inside a duck, which is inside a hare, which is locked in an iron chest, which is buried under a green oak tree, which is on the magic island of Buyan, which is in the middle of the ocean. Koshchei can only be killed by breaking that magic needle.
So now you are familiar with some of the evil characters from the Slavic folklore, so popular in Russia. To learn more about the tales and legends where they appear, check out the Russian films, cartoons and books!
Happy upcoming Halloween!