Nikolai Gogol: Magical Ukrainian Fairy Tale on Christmas Eve

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Devilry and mischief pervades the night before Christmas in Nikolai Gogol’s dark ode called Christmas Eve. The devil absconds with the moon hidden in his pocket. Thereafter, he roams around tormenting people as he pleases.


Sisters Valentina and Zinaida Brumberg animation from 1951, with English subtitles.

A Dark Winter’s Tale: The Night Before Christmas

He decides to punish the village blacksmith, Vakula, for painting hideous portraits of the devil in the church. Vakula is in love with Oksana, but she will have nothing to do with him. Vakula, however, is determined to win her over, even if it means battling the devil. Things get complicated after the devil creates a snowstorm…

Russian Literature, Nikolai Gogol

In Gogol’s story, Vakula, the blacksmith, is the son of the witch Solokha (pictured above). More than anything he wishes to win over the affections of Oksana, the beautiful daughter of a Cossack named Choub.

“The last day before Christmas had passed. A clear winter night had come; the stars peeped out; the moon rose majestically in the sky to light good people and all the world so that all might enjoy singing kolyadki and praising the Lord. It was freezing harder than in the morning, but it was so still that the crunch of the snow under the boot could be heard half a mile away. Not one group of lads had appeared under the cottage windows yet; only the moon peeped in at them stealthily as though calling to the girls who were dressing up in their best to make haste and run out on the crunching snow. At that moment smoke rose in puffs from a cottage chimney and passed like a cloud over the sky, and a witch, astride a broomstick, rose up in the air together with the smoke…”

- Christmas Eve or The Night Before Christmas is the last story in the second volume entitled From Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka (1832)


Noch pered Rozhdestvom (The Night Before Christmas) Created in 1913, this is a rare live action production from the legendary pioneer of stop motion animation, Ladislas Starevitch. Based on the short story by Nikolai Gogol.

Nikolai Gogol Russian literature

The Witch Solokha, Stage Design for Gogol’s play Christmas Eve, 2004 (gouache on paper) by Alimov, Sergey Alexandrovich (b.1938); State Museum and Exhibition Centre ROSIZO, Moscow.

Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (1809-1852) was a Ukrainian-born Russian dramatist, novelist and short story writer.

Sergey Alexandrovich Alimov images are available from Bridgeman Art, Culture, & History – (link)

 

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