Fairy tales are not only short interesting stories for children, they can tell a lot about the culture of the country. Fairy tales reflect people's beliefs and their moral values. Here is a short list of folk tales that every Russian knows.
Tsarevich Ivan, the Firebird and the Grey Wolf
The Firebird is one of the best-recognised characters of Russian folklore. Despite its beautiful appearance, this bird is not all that nice. In the fairy tale, she continuously steals golden apples from the garden of a king. The king sends his sons in search of this mythical creature and promises the finder half his kingdom.
Sister Alenushka, Brother Ivanushka
A slightly absurd and morbid fairy tale, this story is nonetheless very popular with children. The younger brother, Ivanushka, continuously attempts to drink water from puddles, but his sister warns him that by doing so, he might end up as an animal. On his third try, Ivanushka does indeed turn into a goat. Yet even as a goat, Ivanushka manages to get into trouble and is taken by a Baba Yaga (a witch-like villain in Russian stories). The Baba Yaga proceeds to drown the sister, leaving both siblings in a bit of debacle. You’ll have to read the story to find out how the sister manages to ‘undrown’ and how the brother becomes human again.
This is a very popular children’s tale about a teremok (a small wooden house) that was standing empty in a forest. It is first discovered by a mouse who begins living inside. Little by little various animals ask permission to move in and the number of inhabitants continues to grow. Moral of the story? It’s important to learn from your mistakes, but also – it’s good to be picky about roommates.
Vasilisa the Beautiful
Vasilisa was a beautiful daughter of a merchant, who married a second time after his first wife had died. The stepmother hated Vasilisa and gave her lots of hard work. The stepmother decided to move the family closer into the forest where a Russian evil witch, Baba Yaga, lived. The hope was that Baba Yaga would eat the girl, yet she never wandered into the witch’s cabin on her own. One night, the stepmother and the other daughters decided to send her directly there.
Kolobok is a big round piece of dough. In this story, a round piece of dough is left on the window by an elderly lady. This piece of dough rolls out the window. On its journey, the kolobok encounters various animals, telling them how great he is at escaping. Very soon though, he is outsmarted by a fox who uses flattery to lure the kolobok onto its nose, where it eats him. Moral of the story: if you’re a big piece of dough, don’t get too cocky.