The Snow QueenThe places we picked for this issue are beautiful in their icy coldness. They grasp your attention, holding your gaze with their wintery beauty, just like a snow queen. The winter beauty that struck us for this particular issue is the snow queen of Hans Christian Anderson's short story. Simply titled, The Snow Queen, it is not only a fable but also a mythological tale of romance, sadness, love at first sight, explaining the unexplainable or untouchable, and the presence of rare beauty.
The Snow Queen.
by Hans Christian Andersen
Illustrated by Edmund Dulac
There is a legend that, once upon a time, a beautiful fairy, the Snow Queen, lived on the highest, most solitary peaks of the Alps. The mountain folk and shepherds climbed to the summits to admire her, and everyone fell head over heels in love with her.
Every man would have given anything, including his life, to marry her. Indeed, their lives are just what they did give, for Fate had decided that no mortal would ever marry the Snow Queen. But in spite of that, many brave souls did their best to approach her, hoping always to persuade her.
Each suitor was allowed to enter the great ice palace with the crystal roof, where the Queen’s throne stood. But the second he declared his love and asked for her hand, thousands of goblins appeared to grasp him and push him over the rocks, down into bottomless abysses.
Without the slightest emotion, the Queen would watch the scene, her heart of ice unable to feel anything at all. The legend of the crystal palace and the beautiful heartless Queen spread as far as the most distant alpine valley, the home of a fearless chamois hunter. Fascinated by the tale, he decided to set out and try his luck. Leaving his valley, he journeyed for days on end, climbing the snow-clad mountain faces, scaling icebound peaks and defying the bitterly cold wind that swept through the alpine gullies.
More than once he felt all was lost, but the thought of the lovely Snow Queen gave him new strength and kept him moving onwards. At last, after many days climbing, he saw glinting in the sunshine before him, the tall transparent spires of the ice palace.
Summoning all his courage, the young man entered the Throne Room. But he was so struck by the Snow Queen’s beauty that he could not utter a word. Shy and timid, he did not dare speak. So he knelt in admiration before the Queen for hours on end, without opening his mouth. The Queen looked at him silently, thinking all the while that, provided he did not ask her hand in marriage, there was no need to call the goblins.
Then, to her great surprise, she discovered that his behavior touched her heart. She realized she was becoming quite fond of this hunter, much younger and more handsome than her other suitors. Time passed and the Snow Queen dared not admit, not even to herself, that she would actually like to marry the young man.
In the meantime, the goblins kept watch over their mistress; first they were astonished, then they became more and more upset. For they rightly feared that their Queen might be on the point of breaking the Law and bringing down on the heads of all the Mountain People the fury of Fate.
Seeing that the Queen was slow to give the order to get rid of her suitor, the goblins decided to take matters into their own hands. One night, as dusk fell, they slipped out of the cracks in the rock and clustered round the young chamois hunter. Then they hurled him into the abyss. The Snow Queen watched the whole scene from the window, but there was nothing she could do to stop them. However, her icy heart melted, and the beautiful cruel fairy suddenly became a woman.
A tear dropped from her eye, the first she had ever shed. And the Snow Queen’s tear fell on to a stone where it turned into a little silvery star.
This was the first edelweiss … the flower that grows only on the highest, most inaccessible peaks in the Alps, on the edge of the abyss and precipice . . .
The Snow Queen is beautiful, frozen, admired by all, and to top it off a fairy. She lives in a glistening ice palace with translucent spires that rise out of the Alps. The Alps alone are a masterpiece of God's creation with snow capped peaks and jagged outlines. Hans Anderson paints a picture of raw beauty. The mountains, the ice, the snow, the biting wind, the queen, and even the fearless chamois hunter exhibit this quality. Instead of turning the chamois hunter's journey to the snow queen's lair into a story filled with turmoil and discomforts, Anderson masks the harsh conditions with the quest of seeking a beautiful queen. Much like the places in this magazine, this story views a desolate, far-reaching place with a fresh light, one of romance, beauty, and self-discovery.
Traveling to places like Sweden or Russian is like the story of the Snow Queen. While many people view these countries as untouchable, miserable, cold, and desolate we see the beauty of, and have highlighted, these winter wonders. Through Hans Anderson's lens we see beautiful ice palaces placed discretely in some of God's most unique landscapes. In his story, the men that came to stare at the Queen had only one thought on their minds, the prize, the glory of being in her presence. For this issue Sweden and Russia are the prize and they are an Edelweiss, even in the dead of winter.
Sweden is a country that is not only beautiful, but has one of the most amazing phenomenons on this earth, the aura borealis, present nearly every day. The snow queen is a gorgeous woman who sits on an unreachable throne. No man can mess with her or profess his love to her without the fate of death. She is like the precious nature of the northern lights. Many men come to gaze and amaze, and they instantly fall in love at first sight; but, fortunately it is untouchable and preserved by God's hand. Sweden is full of these mysteries, and the romance is just as strong in the dead of winter with the ice freezing everything in a glistening statue. The Edelweiss flower may not be native to this country, but the Queen definitely left a tear drop in Sweden.
Russia conceptualizes a different part of the story. You will not get the same tingling feeling of love at first sight in Russia. The cold will bite you, and the sadness will encompass your heart like the Queen losing the very first man she loved. But, it is a crucial part of the story as it leads to the life of a beautiful flower. Part of travel is learning and growing. The Snow Queen had finally seen a man that was not like the rest; he was rare; he was unexplainable. Her heart melted only after staring back into this young hunter's eyes for days discovering something never felt before. Russia teaches us a new feeling. Experiencing this place is rare, and is only heightened by winter's frigid grasp. It is not for the weak or the tourist, but for the ones that accept the challenge of reaching the untouchable.