Baboushka

(redirected from Matryoshka doll)
Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.

Baboushka

Before the Revolution of 1917, Russian children received Christmas gifts from Baboushka, an old woman whose story is told in a Russian legend. Baboushka means "grandmother" in Russian. After the Revolution the government discouraged tales about folk characters like Baboushka, whose story refers to religious beliefs. Instead they promoted tales about completely secular characters such as Grandfather Frost, who currently serves as Russia's gift bringer. With the fall of Russia's Communist regime in 1991, many old beliefs and practices have been returning, and Baboushka may, too. Baboushka closely resembles the traditional Italian gift bringer, La Befana.

The Legend of Baboushka

A long time ago an old woman lived alone in a house by the road. She had lived alone so long that her days and her thoughts were filled only with sweeping, dusting, cooking, spinning, and scrubbing. One evening she heard the sound of trumpets and men approaching on horseback. She paused for a moment, wondering who they could be. Suddenly she heard a knock on her door. Upon opening it she discovered three noble men standing before her (see Magi). "We are journeying to Bethlehem to find the child who has been born a King," they told her. They invited Baboushka to join them. "I haven't finished my work," she replied "and the nights are so cold here. Perhaps it would be better if you came in by the fire." But the strangers would not delay their journey and departed into the night. Sitting by the fire, Baboushka began to wonder about the child and regret her decision to stay home. Finally she gathered a few trinkets from among her poor possessions and set off into the night. She walked and walked, inquiring everywhere for the lordly men and the newborn King, but she never found them. Each year on Epiphany Eve (or Twelfth Night) Baboushka searches Russia for the Christ child. She visits every house, and even if she doesn't find him, she still leaves trinkets for well-behaved children.

Variations

In one version of the tale, the wise men ask Baboushka the way to Bethlehem and she intentionally deceives them. In another, the wise men ask for lodgings for the night and Baboushka refuses them. In yet a third the Holy Family passes by her door on their journey from Bethlehem to Egypt (see Flight into Egypt; Holy Innocents' Day). They beg hospitality from her, but she turns them away with nothing. In spite of their differences, each story concludes in the same way. Baboushka regrets her lack of concern, seeks out the people she has rejected, and eventually becomes a magical figure who travels the world at Christmas time bringing gifts to children.

Further Reading

Del Re, Gerard, and Patricia Del Re. The Christmas Almanack. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1979. Henderson, Yorke, et al. Parents' Magazine Christmas Holiday Book. New York: Parents'Magazine Press, 1972. Philip, Neil, ed. Christmas Fairy Tales. New York: Viking, 1996. Robbins, Ruth. Baboushka and the Three Kings. Berkeley, Calif.: Parnassus Press, 1960.

Baboushka

female Santa Claus on Feast of Epiphany. [Russ. Folklore: Walsh Classical, 50]
References in periodicals archive ?
If we seek to understand the variety of behaviors in a diverse range of situations, we need to identify what level of the Matryoshka doll is likely to become "activated" by the situation in question.
Behind its colourful cover featuring the face of a traditional Matryoshka doll, lies over 450 pages of thoughtful text and spectacular photographs, telling a fantastic story about a powerful nation.
Before me lay an altar with 10 matching dolls (the Russian matryoshka doll sets of increasing sizes that all nest together), candles, and a beautiful red bowl.
Just like a matryoshka doll, the classification consists of multiple nested layers.
Indeed, being a somewhat nested affair concealing multiple facets and sources, the Whitney's own press is correct in comparing it to a matryoshka doll.
Russian identity under such interpretation resembles a matryoshka doll with cheerful multiple layers serving only to cover up a superfluous core.
In the history of Christianity there is no monk about whom we know so much, yet Merton is still evading us like a matryoshka doll containing an infinity of selves.
We decided to trademark our sporty version of the Russian Matryoshka doll as Babooshkah(TM) for two main reasons," Deutsch explains.
As each turn of fate induces another level of abjection, as though life were nothing but a malevolent matryoshka doll, we can only helplessly look on.
First, few analysts could read the fact that Syria is a matryoshka doll with ethnic-cultural-strategic ties involving neighboring and far away countries alike with differing and contradicting interests.
Purged of her signature folksy and fairy-tale-like imagery--styl-ized animal and matryoshka doll figures and boldly patterned borders and backgrounds derived from quilting and outsider or craft-based tech-niques--these new oil paintings on canvas (all Untitled, 2014) embrace the formally austere language of geometric abstraction, harkening back to the Russian Constructivist and De Stijl movements.
This morning is a keeper, a matryoshka doll of sweetness and delights.