About Russian Santa-Claus – Дед Мороз

Ded Moroz (Дед Мороз) or Father Frost, the Slavic version of Santa Claus, long ago became the symbol of Russian winter, New Year’s and presents. He is usually accompanied by his granddaughter Snegurochka (Снегурочка) riding with an evergreen tree in a traditional Russian troika(тройка), a sleigh drawn by three horses abreast.

The original Russian gift-giver was Saint Nicholas, whose Feast Day is celebrated on December 19th. In 1917, with the Bolshevik Revolution, Ded Moroz was banished into exile. He was considered a kind of a kids’ god, which was impermissible during Soviet times when Russian leaders were flatly against any manifestations of religiousness. But only 20 years later Ded Moroz returned to the country and New Year’s celebrations became public. Since then Ded Moroz and Snegurochka appear on New Year’s Eve, putting presents under the fir tree for the kids to find in the morning.

Image from www.snegurochka-dedmoroz.ruImage from www.snegurochka-dedmoroz.ru

Ded Moroz has a number of distinguishing features that help tell him apart from his foreign colleagues: his shirt and trousers are made of flax and are usually decorated with white geometrical ornamental patterns. His fir coat is ankle long and is embroidered with silvery stars and crosses. His hat should be red and embroidered with pearls. Ded Moroz wears mittens and a wide white belt. His footwear is luxurious – high boots with silver ornamentation, but on an exceptionally chilly day Ded Moroz can opt for valenki (валенки)! And finally he never appears without his pikestaff – made either of silver or crystal, it possesses a twisted gripe. It helps the not-so-young Ded Moroz make his way through the deep dark forest during long winter nights.

Despite the respectful age and the benevolent character children often tease Ded Moroz calling him “Дед Мороз – красный нос! ” – “Ded Moroz the Red Nose.”

Adapted from http://russiapedia.rt.com/of-russian-origin/ded-moroz/

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