The Snow Child

foltales of type 1362

translated and/or edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2010


  1. The Snow Child (Europe).

  2. The Ice Child (Germany).

  3. A Twelve-Month Child (Italy).

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

The Snow Child


A merchant lived with his wife in their cottage by the shore. Their's was not an easy life, for his voyages kept him away from home many months at a time. One homecoming following a particularly long and arduous voyage, the merchant was greeted by his wife and an infant child. He was surprised, but not especially pleased, to see the newborn baby, as he had been at sea for nearly a year.

The wife countered the husband's inquiring look with an explanation.

"No, it is not your son," she admitted. "It's a miracle boy, a Snow Child!" She continued, "One winter's day while returning home from church I slipped on the ice and fell into a snow bank. Nine months later I gave birth to our Snow Child. Is he not a wonder!"

The husband had to admit that the child was a wonder, for he had no color. His hair and his skin were a bleached white. The merchant seemed to accept the new family member.

Many voyages and seasons later, it was on a hot summer's day, the merchant, an-nounced to his wife that he would be going to market in the next village. "I'll take the Snow Child along for an outing," he said.

The merchant arrived back home that evening, but he was alone.

"Where is our son?" asked the anxious mother.

"Something terrible happened," responded the husband. "We were walking across a broad meadow in the hot sun, and he…," the husband faltered. "And he melted."

The Ice Child


In Venice there was a merchant whose journeys kept him away from home for one or three years at a time. Once upon returning he found a good-looking boy running around in his house.

The man asked, "Whose good-looking boy is this?"

His wife said, "Husband, he is mine. Let me tell you how I came to have this child. In the winter I was walking in the garden, thinking about you with longing. Just then a ice cycle fell from the roof. I ate it, and the child grew out of it. As a sign of this, his name is Glacies."

The good man said nothing, not wanting to make to much of the situation, for if a man scolds his wife, he is only scolding himself. Furthermore, he thought, if you had been with her, this probably would not have happened. Just as you have broken foreign jugs while abroad, she has broken some pots here at home.

Glacies grew up and became large.

One day the man said to his wife, "What do you think if I took our Glacies with me, so he could learn the art of buying and selling, so in the future he will know whether or not he wants to become a merchant."

His wife said, "But you must take care of him."

The man took him along, and sold him overseas.

A long time later he returned home, but did not bring the child with him.

The woman said, "What have you done with our child Glacies?"

The man said, "A strange thing happened to him. One day while we were sailing on the sea it was terribly hot. I told him not to sit there bare-headed, but he did so anyway. The sun was so hot on hi head that he melted and ran into the sea. Just as he came from water, he became water once again.

A Twelve-Month Child


A Woman's Humorous Answer to a Man's Enquiry Whether His Wife Could Be Confined at the End of a Twelve-Month

A Florentine, who had been abroad, came home after one year's absence, and found his wife in labor. He did not like it, suspecting some conjugal disloyalty. However, not being sure of the thing, he sought the advice of a neighbor, a clever gentlewoman, and asked her if a child could be born to him after twelve months.

The lady, seeing his silliness, at once comforted him: "To be sure," said she," for, if on the day she conceived, your wife happened to see a donkey, she will have borne a whole year, as asses do."

The husband took those words for gospel, and thanking God for having rid him of an ugly suspicion, and his wife of a grievous exposure, he acknowledged the child as his own.

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Revised July 16, 2010.