According to most legends, the Rusalka is a fish woman that lives in the bottom of rivers. She is similar to mermaids or sirens, lururing handsome men down to the bottom of the river with songs and seductive dancing.
Most people believe that this dark mermaid is a kind of "unclean force". Because of it being a female apparition, it is believed she either committed suicide because she was jilted by her lover, or that she wasn't married when she became pregnant.
Their eyes shine like green fire, have pale skin that is almost translucent, and no pupils in her eyes. Her hair is either green or golden, and is always wet. She can't live long on dry land. If it wasn't for her comb that can summon water, she would be helpless. They say that she dies if her hair drys out.
The Rusalka often goes after men and children. They lure men, usually bachelors, with singing and children with baskets of fruit. It is said that men often die in her arms or from hearing her laugh. Then again, she could tickle them to death.
In early June, people are prohibited from swimming for a whole week because the mermaid is more likely to grab them during that time. It is called Rualka Week. Until 1930, a ritual banishment or burial happened to ensure the safety of the people.
Though her home is primarily the water she died in, she comes out at night, swing from birch and willow branches, sing as they sit in trees, sit on rocks and comb their hair, or join other Rusalka in a dance circle.
They can also come from children where never baptized, often because they were born out of wedlock or murdered by their mothers for the same reason. Baby Rusalka are said to wander the forest, asking to be baptized so that they can find peace. But they are far from innocent. Some say that the babies kill anyone foolish enough to come up to them.