Christmas Eve in the hamlet of Dikanka.
The moon is shining, the stars are on fire. In the evening, maskers are getting ready to carol. Beauty Oksana is wondering: someone who finds her boot, thrown out of the gate, will become her husband. The smith Vakula raises her cherevik. Oksana realizes she loves Vakula, but she teases him and replies that she will only marry him if he brings her a pair of the Empress's slippers.
The widow Solokha, who is considered a witch, agrees to help the Devil steal the moon. The Devil is annoyed with Solokha's son Vakula, who painted an icon mocking him. The Devil decides to create a snowstorm to force Chub, Oksana’s father, to come to Solokha’s house and strike Vakula. While the storm rages, Solokha rides up to the sky and steals the moon. The Deacon and Chub, are unable to find their way.
The Devil is just getting cosy at Solokha's hut when in succession the mayor, the priest and Chub arrive to seduce her each hiding in a sack when the next arrives. Vakula hauls the four heavy sacks into the street to clean the house for holiday.
Mermaids languish on the river at the ice-hole. Vakula has decided to drown here. Slipped out of the bag, the Devil, whose vengeful plan has not yet succeeded, hopes that now he will easily deceive Vakula and buy his soul. But a smart smith easily fools the Devil and, riding, orders to carry himself directly to the tsaritsa! They fly to St.Petersburg.
The Devil puts down Vakula in the tsaritsa's court. A chorus sings praises of the tsaritsa. Vakula requests the tsaritsa's boots and his wish is granted because of its unusual and amusing nature.
Oksana regrets that she has treated Vakula harshly. She is sure he has been drowned.
The maskers find Vakula’s sacks and open them, thinking that he has got pies and sausages for carols. But Panas and Pan Chub appear out of the sacks. Everyone guess that Soloha has sent them into sacks. But where is Vakula himself? Gossips immediately write that Vakula has hanged himself. Solokha claims that he has drowned. All mourn for the glorious smith and painter. There are few like him in Dikanka.
Vakula appears on the Devil’s back. He shows Oksana and all people a gift from the tsaritsa - precious cherevichki. But Oksana says that she loves him and without any cherevichki.
Chub and Solokha bless the young. The maskers wish Vakula with Oksana happiness for many years.