Baboushka: A Russian Folk Tale


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From “A Classic Christmas,” a compilation of beautiful reflections, meditations, and scripture passages. 

This story replaces the Saint Nicholas Legend in Russia and has been told for many years.

It was the night that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. In a faraway country an old woman named Baboushka sat in her snug little house by her warm fire. The wind was drifting the snow outside and howling down the chimney, but it only made Baboushka’s fire burn more brightly.

“How glad I am to be indoors,” said Baboushka, holding out her hands to the bright blaze.

Suddenly she heard a loud rap at her door. She opened it and there stood three splendidly dressed old men. Their beards were as white as the snow and so long they almost reached the ground. Their eyes shone kindly in the light of Baboushka’s candle, and their arms were full of precious things–boxes of jewels and sweet-smelling oils and ointments.

“We have traveled far, Baboushka,” they said, “and we have stopped to tell you of the babe born this night in Bethlehem. He has come to rule the world and teach us to be more loving and true. We are bringing Him gifts. Come with us, Baboushka.”

Baboushka looked at the swirling, drifting snow and then inside at her cozy room and the crackling fire. “It is too late for me to go with you, good sirs,” she said. “The night is too cold.” She shut the door and went inside and the old men journeyed to Bethlehem without her.

But as Baboushka sat rocking by her fire, she began to think about the baby Prince, for she loved babies.

“Tomorrow I will go to find Him,” she said, “tomorrow, when it is light, and I will carry Him some toys.”

In the morning Baboushka put on her long cloak and took her staff, and she filled her basket with the pretty things a baby would like, gold balls, and wooden toys and strings of silver cobwebs, and she set out to find the baby.

But Baboushka had forgotten to ask the three old men the way to Bethlehem, and they had traveled so far during the night that she could not catch up with them. Up and down the road she hurried, through the woods and fields and towns, telling everyone she met, “I am looking for the baby Prince. Where does He lie? I have some pretty toys for Him.”

But no one could tell her the way. “Farther on, Baboushka, farther on,” was their only reply. So she traveled on and on for years and years–but she never found the little Prince.

They say that Baboushka is traveling still, looking for Him. And every year, when Christmas Eve comes and all the children are lying fast asleep, Baboushka trudges softly through the snowy fields and towns, wrapped in her long cloak and carrying her basket on her arm. Gently she raps at every door.

“Is He here?” she asks. “Is the baby Prince here?” But the answer is always no, and sorrowfully she starts on her way again. Before she leaves, though, she lays a toy from her basket beside the pillow of each child. “For His sake,” she says softly, and then hurries on through the years, forever in search of the baby Prince.

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Originally published on Beyond Blue at

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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