Winter Tales: The Snow Queen

As I was choosing what tale to talk about this week, I was surprised that I hadn’t covered this one sooner. But I haven’t, so today I will! The Snow Queen was written by Han Christian Anderson, first published in 1844 (December 21, 1844, to be exact, almost 170 years ago to the day!). It provided a very vague inspiration for Disney’s Frozen, though there are very few similarities in the story.

Winter In Poland 2

What It’s About

The story follows two children, Gerda and her friend Kai (sometimes Kay). The story is broken into 7 parts. The first part tells of a wicked spirit who makes a mirror that reflects only the bad in people, magnifying it until all they can see are the exaggerated bits of ugly and horror. The spirit tries to fly the mirror up to heaven, but drops it. The pieces of shattered mirror are blown around the world and lodge into people’s eyes, distorting their vision, or hearts, making them as hard and cold as ice. The second part of the story begins, introducing Kai and Gerda, friends and neighbors. Kai’s grandmother tells the story of the  Snow Queen, who rules over the winter. Kai sees her that night outside his window, beckoning for him to follow her. He doesn’t. Over the next summer, however, a shards of the mirror get lodged into Kai’s heart and eyes. He turns into a cruel and angry person, going so far as to pull up the roses Gerda loves so much. The next winter, he is approached by the Snow Queen, who takes him away in her sleigh. She kisses twice; first to make him numb to cold, and second to make him forget his family and home. Gerda goes after Kai, determined to save him. She travels a great distance to find him, encountering a sorceress, a band of robbers run by a young girl, a river spirit, and women living in the North Pole. When Gerda finally reaches the Snow Queen’s palace, she finds that Kai has been enslaved by the Snow Queen’s power. The power of her love and the warmth of the tears she sheds breaks the spell and the two happily return home.

Fun Fact #1

The roses Kai pulls up are more than just Gerda’s favorite flowers; they are reminders of how much she cares about him. Gerda is actually captured by the sorceress, who traps her with her a beautiful garden. The sorceress causes all the roses to be buried so that Gerda won’t be reminded of Kai.

Fun Fact #2

Everyone assumes that Kai had drowned in the nearby river when he disappeared. When Gerda first set out to find him, she went to the river and offered to make an exchange for Kai. That’s when she finds out that he’s still alive.

Fun Fact #3

The Snow Queen’s power has trapped Kai by giving him an impossible task. She promises that if he can arranged shards of ice in a certain way, she will free him. After Gerda breaks the spell, the two  dance and cause the ice pieces to fall into place.

If You’re Interested….

Disney’s Frozen was loosely (and I mean very loosely) based on The Snow Queen. Other than that, I’ve yet to come across adaptations of this story, but I’d love some recommendations if you have!

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