The Russian fairytale Jack Frost echoes many of the same characteristics as the Grimm tales. Jack Frost begins with a girl who has a cruel stepmother who hates her and tries to get rid of her. The stepmother convinces the father to leave his own daughter to die in the middle of the forest in winter. However, when Jack Frost, a personification of winter, comes to freeze her to death he is swayed by her kind words and instead rewards her with treasures.
When the daughter returns wealthy and beautiful, the stepmother immediately sends her own daughter out into the frozen forest to get her own rewards. However, Jack Frost does not find her worthy, and kills her. Jack Frost follows a literary pattern almost identical to the Grimm’s tales. Like many stories such as Ashputtle or Hansel and Gretel, there is an evil stepmother. The evil stepmother forces the father to kick his daughter out. There is a supernatural helper in the form of Jack Frost, who tests the daughter and helps her once he finds her worthy.
In standard fairy tale fashion, it ends in tears for the wicked stepmother, and the good daughter lives happily ever after. However, Jack Frost departs from the standard Grimm fairy tale in a number of interesting ways. One difference is that in Jack Frost, one of the norms of the Grimm tales is reversed. In most Grimm fairy tales, the unworthy candidates try before the hero. In a kingdom, usually the two eldest brothers fail before the youngest succeeds, or in Ashputtle/Cinderella the stepsisters try to win the prince’s hand first.
However, in Jack Frost it is only after the good daughter wins the favor of Jack Frost that the stepmother sends her own daughter out into the woods. Although the outcome is the same, this is the reverse usual order. It is evident by the personification of winter in the form of Jack Frost that Russian culture places a great deal of importance in winter. However, Jack Frost is more than a season; he is a fey creature with the power to do good just as easily as he could kill. In Russian fairy tales, winter plays a broader role than in the Grimm tales, taking on a magical aspect.