January 01, 1999

Christmas Duck and the Immortal Kashey

Christmas Duck and the Immortal Kashey

Duck is not reserved only for lamely departing presidents or Chinese cooks. The duck, as it turns out, also has a special place in Russian folklore and cuisine. 

Russian children hear many fairy tales featuring the duck or its male equivalent, the drake. If my childhood memories serve me right, it was the wild duck that carried the magic egg high in the sky. And inside the egg was the magic needle – the life giver of Kashey-Bessmertny (the Immortal). In the tale, the duck drops the egg in the sea, then a pike retrieves the egg. Then Ivan-Tsarevich somehow gets hold of the egg, breaks it, then breaks the needle inside, killing his nemesis, the ugly Kaschey. Of course, the point of all this was to save and marry Vasilisa-Prekrasnaya (the Beautiful), victim of Kaschey’s evil designs. 

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