Scaring the Russian out of you
31 October, 2017
It’s that time of the year again, where you dress up in a terrifying costume and scare your friends: it’s Halloween. Of course, you know that every country has its own creepy and scary characters; like how British people have Jack the Ripper or the Austrians have ‘Krampus’. But what about Russia? Do the people here have frightening stories or characters who raise their ugly heads at this time of year…?
Taking a swim or fishing at night? Or just crossing a river at night? Why not…? Водяной is already looking forward to it. Translated into English it means ‘the one in the water’. Russians believe that it is a terribly bad idea to do any activities in or even near water. This myth is very well-known here because Russia is full of lakes, seas, and rivers, the ideal location for this creature to live and wait. He is known as the king of deep waters and feared all over the nation. What makes him so special is his appearance: Black or dark blue-skinned, with a fin and a fishtail, and his tangled seaweed-dyed hair. If you are brave enough to swim at night, you’ve been warned! What’s worse – Водяной doesn’t just kill people, he just drags them deep down and when they die, they become slaves in his realm forever. This is the reason why victims who have drowned do not get buried in Russia, because it might offend Водяной…
Леший, translated as ‘the one in the woods’ is a friendly old man in the woods – NOT! He is very tall, wears a fur coat, a big hat and has a long grey beard. He is also known as the master of the woods and plays pranks on anyone who enters his woods carelessly. One of his classic jokes is that he makes you get lost in the woods and just when you think you finally found your way back home, (because he shows it you), you get lost forever. Леший loves to smoke his pipe and never misses a chance to ‘borrow’ tobacco from random people. Sometimes he invites you to have a drink with him, to celebrate the wonderful day – you should avoid doing this! To avoid this situation, you should just stay quiet in the woods and sometimes turn your clothes inside out. But the most important rule is – don’t go into the woods at night… if you do, it was nice to know you!
Баба Яга (Baba Yaga)
This creature is pretty much a star in Slavic mythology when it comes to frightening characters, but don’t be fooled! You may think that because she is an old lady, she must be innocent? That’s not even close to the truth. Баба яга looks very familiar to a witch and is comparable to the one from the famous fairy-tale ‘Hansel & Gretel’ – so, she is up to no good. This creature is erratic and enormously dangerous, she represents death in the trinity goodness, the other two parts being the virgin and the mother. She is also the devils partner and delivers souls to him, but before that takes place, she cooks and eats your flesh. This creature lives deep in the woods in an Изба смерти which means ‘hut of death’. This hut looks quite strange because it stands on some sort of chicken legs.
Кощей Бессмертный (Koschei the Deathless)
Кощей (skeleton) is immortal and can’t be killed by conventional means. His soul is hidden separate from his body inside a needle, which is in an egg, which is in a duck, which is in a hare, which is in an iron chest, which is buried under a green oak tree, which is on the island of Buyan in the ocean. In Russian this is the explanation: ‘На море на океане есть остров, на том острове дуб стоит, под дубом сундук зарыт, в сундуке – заяц, в зайце – утка, в утке – яйцо, в яйце – игла, – смерть Кощея.’As long as his soul is safe, he cannot die. If you possess the egg you’re able to possess Koschei and his power. He begins to weaken, becomes sick, and immediately loses the use of his magic. “The Death of Koschei the Deathless” is a Russian fairy-tale written by Alexander Afanasyev.
Змей Горыныч (Slavic dragon)
In Russia, a particular dragon-like creature, ‘Змей Горыныч’, has three heads, is green, walks on his two back legs, has small front paws, and spits fire. Some Russian dragons symbolize the Mongols and other people from the steppe. The tale says that St George (symbolizing good) killed the Dragon (symbolizing the devil) which is now represented on the coat of arms of Moscow. These creatures have heads that grow back if every single head isn’t cut off or the headless neck isn’t covered immediately in ashes.
Are you scared now? I would be if I were you. Keep your eyes open… especially at nights like this. And what I forgot to mention… anyone who reads this blog, is getting visited by one of these five creepy, dangerous creatures… Good luck!