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 a trip 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 contrasts 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*