The Snow-child

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The Snow-child is a widespread European folktale,[1] found in many medieval tellings.[2]

It is Aarne-Thompson type 1362.[1]


A merchant returns home after an absence of two years to find his wife with a newborn son. She explains one snowy day she swallowed a snowflake while thinking about her husband which caused her to conceive. Pretending to believe, he raises the boy with her until he takes the boy on and sells him into slavery. On his return, he explains to his wife that the boy melted in the heat.[3]


The tale appears in Medieval fabliaux,[3] and was used in school exercises of rhetoric.[2] It first appears in the 11th-century Cambridge Songs.[2] A Medieval play about the Virgin Mary has characters disbelieving her story of her pregnancy citing the tale.[2]

It contrast to Aarne-Thompson type 703*, Snow Maiden, where a child really has a magical snow-related origin.[4]


  1. ^ a b D. L. Ashliman, The Snow Child: folktales of type 1362
  2. ^ a b c d Jan M. Ziolkowski Fairy Tales from Before Fairy Tales: The Medieval Latin Past of Wonderful Lies p 42 ISBN 9780472033799
  3. ^ a b Nicolas Balachov, (1984). "Le developpement des structures narratives du fabliau a la nouvelle". in Gabriel Bianciotto, Michel Salvat. Épopée animale, fable, fabliau. Publication Univ Rouen Havre. pp. 30-32.. ISBN 978-2-13-038255-3.
  4. ^ D. L. Ashliman, The Snow Maiden: foltales of type 703*