Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Oh The Weather Outside is Frightful...

Yuki-onna - The Snow  Maiden

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...It seems as if we are becoming a living tribute to the song, Let It Snow, composed by lyricist Sammy Cahn in 1945.  Today we greet February with a familiar sight this winter, snow! It continues to fall today here in snow-weary New England and more is on the way. I am remembering the old saying, "If you can't beat em, join em!" So with that in mind I offer you some winter tales to warm your spirit.

(If you would like to listen to a modern version of this great song, here is a link to Michael Buble's version.  It is certain to add a smile to your face and a spring (no pun intended) to your step!)

"Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,

Seems nowhere to alight: the withered air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and to heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.
The sled and traveler stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, and housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm."
                                                 ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yuki-onna (雪女, ゆきおんな, Yuki-onna snow woman)
Some legends say the Yuki-onna, being associated with winter and snowstorms, is the spirit of someone who perished in the snow She is at the same time beautiful and serene, yet ruthless in killing unsuspecting mortals. Until the 18th century, she was almost uniformly portrayed as evil. Today, however, stories often color her as more human, emphasizing her ghost-like like nature and ephemeral beauty.In some stories:
  • Yuki-onna appears to travelers trapped in snowstorms and uses her icy breath to leave them as frost-coated corpses
  • Yuki-onna leads them astray so they simply die of exposure.
  • She manifests holding a child. When a well-intentioned soul takes the "child" from her, they are frozen in place.]
  • Other legends make Yuki-onna much more aggressive. In these stories, she invades homes, blowing in the door with a gust of wind to kill residents in their sleep. Some legends require her to be invited inside first. From Wikipedia. Click here for more on Yuki-onna.


Yuki-onna– The Woman of the Snow - Japanese Folktale
In a village of Musashi Province, there lived two woodcutters: Mosaku and Minokichi. At the time of which I am speaking, Mosaku was an old man; and Minokichi, his apprentice, was a lad of eighteen years. Every day they went together to a forest situated about five miles from their village. On the way to that forest there is a wide river to cross; and there is a ferry-boat. Several times a bridge was built where the ferry is; but the bridge was each time carried away by a flood. No common bridge can resist the current there when the river rises.

Mosaku and Minokichi were on their way home, one very cold evening, when a great snowstorm overtook them. They reached the ferry; and they found that the boatman had gone away, leaving his boat on the other side of the river. It was no day for swimming; and the woodcutters took shelter in the ferryman's hut,--thinking themselves lucky to find any shelter at all. There was no brazier in the hut, nor any place in which to make a fire: it was only a two-mat hut, with a single door, but no window. Mosaku and Minokichi fastened the door, and lay down to rest, with their straw rain-coats over them. At first they did not feel very cold; and they thought that the storm would soon be over.

The old man almost immediately fell asleep; but the boy, Minokichi, lay awake a long time, listening to the awful wind, and the continual slashing of the snow against the door. The river was roaring; and the hut swayed and creaked like a junk at sea. It was a terrible storm; and the air was every moment becoming colder; and Minokichi shivered under his rain-coat. But at last, in spite of the cold, he too fell asleep.

He was awakened by a showering of snow in his face. The door of the hut had been forced open; and, by the snow-light (yuki-akari), he saw a woman in the room,--a woman all in white. She was bending above Mosaku, and blowing her breath upon him;--and her breath was like a bright white smoke. For the rest of the story click here.

One of my favorite winter stories; a Cinderella variant.
The Twelve Month Brothers - Ukrainian folktale
There was once a widow who had two daughters, Helen, her own child by her dead husband, and Marouckla, his daughter by his first wife. She loved Helen, but hated the poor orphan because she was far prettier than her own daughter.
The Twelve Months

Marouckla did not think about her good looks, and could not understand why her stepmother should be angry at the sight of her. The hardest work fell to her share. She cleaned out the rooms, cooked, washed, sewed, spun, wove, brought in the hay, milked the cow, and all this without any help.

Helen, meanwhile, did nothing but dress herself in her best clothes and go to one amusement after another.

But Marouckla never complained. She bore the scoldings and bad temper of mother and sister with a smile on her lips, and the patience of a lamb. But this angelic behavior did not soften them. They became even more tyrannical and grumpy, for Marouckla grew daily more beautiful, while Helen's ugliness increased. So the stepmother determined to get rid of Marouckla, for she knew that while she remained, her own daughter would have no suitors. Hunger, every kind of privation, abuse, every means was used to make the girl's life miserable. But in spite of it all Marouckla grew ever sweeter and more charming.

One day in the middle of winter Helen wanted some wood-violets.

"Listen," cried she to Marouckla, "you must go up the mountain and find me violets. I want some to put in my gown. They must be fresh and sweet-scented-do you hear?"

"But, my dear sister, whoever heard of violets blooming in the snow?" said the poor orphan. For the rest of the story click here.

The Winter Spirit and His Visitor – Native American Folktale

Winter Melon Boy (Hmong)  


Winter and Children’s Literature



Snow Flake Crystals
See how amazing snowflakes really are with close up photographs that will amaze your students!  

Snowman Bulletin Board Ideas 

Snowy Weather Resources  - Here's a lesson on where snow comes from:

How do animals spend the winter? Help your students find out! 

Winter Activities Work Sheets – Crossword Puzzles, Anagrams and more.


Perpetual Preschool - Winter Animal Songs



Celebrating Snow with the Small Ones – Fingerplays, songs and more to delight the children in your winter lapsit program.


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Karen Chace 2011 ©

This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission, please contact me at storybug@aol.com. Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.