Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas. Calvin Coolidge.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Ded Moroz & Snegurochka

Ded Moroz is a fictional character who in some Slavic cultures plays a role similar to that of Santa Claus. The literal translation of the name would be "Old Man Frost", although the name is often translated as "Father Frost" in light of the modern usage of "ded" to refer to a grandfather. Ded Moroz is said to bring presents to children, however, unlike the secretive Santa Claus, the gifts are often delivered "in person", at New Year's Eve parties and other New Year celebrations. The "in-person" gifts usually occur at organized celebrations at kindergartens or schools and at circus performances around New Year time where the gifts can be standardized. Various agencies provide Ded Moroz visits to families and offices. In such cases specific gifts can be chosen for particular members at the parties. The clandestine placing of gifts under a New Year tree occurs when a Ded Moroz visit is not arranged for some reason.
The traditional appearance of Ded Moroz resembles that of Santa Claus, with his coat, boots and long white beard. Specifically, Ded Moroz is often shown wearing a heel-length fur coat, a semi-round fur hat, and valenki or jackboots on his feet. Unlike Santa Claus, he is often depicted as walking with a long magical staff.
The official residence of Ded Moroz in Russia is considered to be the town of Veliky Ustyug.
Depictions of Ded Moroz commonly show him accompanied by Snegurochka.  His granddaughter and helper, who is often depicted in long silver-blue robes and a furry cap or a snowflake-like crown. She is a unique attribute of Ded Moroz; no traditional gift-givers from other cultures are portrayed with a similar companion. Just as Ded Moroz appears in various interpretations during the holiday season impersonated by men in costume, so does Snegurochka assume new guises around Russia to help distribute gifts. Snegurochka's name is derived from the Russian word for snow, sneg. 


  1. Since the 1990s, Veliky Ustyug was marketed as the residence of Ded Moroz, a fictitional character somewhat similar to Santa Claus. In 1998, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov proposed to officially locate the residence of Ded Moroz in Veliky Ustyug. The residence, which is a resort promoted as the Votchina (Russian: Вотчина, Estate), of Ded Moroz, is a major tourist attraction. It is actually located 16 km from the town, on the premises of Velikoustyugsky District. There is a dedicated post office there which answers children's mail to Ded Moroz and has already answered more than 1.2 million letters.

  2. While Ded Moroz is the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus, he is unmistakably Russian in appearance and attitude. He is typically shown in a long, Russian-style coat in the colors of red, icy blue, silver, gold, or another color appropriate to the season, which is lined or trimmed with white fur. Ded Moroz lacks the conical-style cap worn by the Western Santa and instead sports a rounded Russian cap generously trimmed with fur. His clothing is sometimes richly decorated with embroidery. Traditionally shown as a tall and slender older gentleman, Ded Moroz cuts an elegant figure on Christmas cards wishing the receiver happy New Year.

    Ded Moroz carries a staff and wears a long white beard. He protects his feet from the cold by tall valenki or leather boots. The three horses of the Russian troika offer enough power and speed to get Ded Moroz to where he needs to go – the Russian Santa has no need for eight reindeer!

    Ded Moroz delivers gifts on New Year's Eve rather than on Christmas Eve. He is often accompanied by a figure from Russian fairy tales, Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden. In the legend of Ded Moroz, she is said to be his granddaughter.

    Instead of the North Pole, the Russian Santa Claus officially makes his home at an estate in the Russian town of Veliky Ustyug. Children can write their letters to Ded Moroz and send them to Veliky Ustyug in hopes of having their holiday wishes granted. Those who visit Veliky Ustyug can have their photo take with Ded Moroz, ride in a troika, and enjoy wintertime activities.

    During the holiday season, Ded Moroz makes appearances in major Russian cities, like Moscow. He often takes part in festivals and parades.

  3. Ustyug & Kostroma
    Current Russian tradition of New Year celebration on December, 31 was brought by Tzar Peter the Great after his visit of the Western Europe in the late 17th century. The Russian New Year celebration includes, among the fireworks and family supper, the visit of gift-giving Ded Moroz accompanied by elegant figure of his granddaughter Snegurochka who helps him play with kids and present the gifts. Ded Moroz delivers gifts on New Year's Eve rather than on Christmas Eve which is celebrated on the 7th of January that corresponds to December 25 in old-style Julian calendar (changed by Soviet government after 1917). Christmas trees and Ded Moroz were banned in Soviet Union until 1935 because they were considered to be a “bourgeois and religious prejudice”. Nevertheless, after a few years Ded Moroz became the key figure of the Soviet New Year Holiday that replaced Christmas as the most favorite holiday in the pre-revolutionary Russia. Father Frost has not just kept his popularity and importance up to the present days, but is gaining more and more of them.

    The literal translation of Ded Moroz is Grandfather Frost, however he is sometimes called Father Frost. Initially roots of Ded Moroz are in old Slavic pagan beliefs. In Russian folklore Grandfather Frost is a powerful hero and smith who chains water in rivers and lakes with his “iron” frosts. But under the influence of Orthodox traditions severe Father Frost adopted certain traits from Saint Nicolas, became kind and started to give presents to kids.

    The traditional appearance of Ded Moroz — a coat, long snow-white beard, ruddy nose and cheeks — has a close resemblance with western Santa Claus. Ded Moroz wears a heel-long fur coat and valenki (Russian high felt boots) that protects his feet from the cold. Ded Moroz lacks the conical-style cap worn by the Western Santa and instead wears a rounded Russian cap generously trimmed with fur. He walks with a long magical stick with a sparkling star on its top and carrying a huge red sack with presents. Ded Moroz does not say “Ho, ho, ho” like Santa do and travels in a magical decorated troika (sleigh drawn by three white horses) instead of eight reindeers.

  4. Granddaughter of Ded Moroz is Snegurochka or the “Snow Maiden”. She is a unique attribute of the image of Ded Moroz — none of his foreign colleagues has such a cute companion. The image of Snegurochka personifies frozen waters. She is an enigmatic maid (not a small girl) wearing purely white garments. She is wearing an eight-radial crown decorated with silver and pearls on her head.

    Unlike the secretive ways of Santa Claus, Ded Moroz and Snegurochka bring presents to children personally, while specially organized New Year parties for kids called “The New Year Tree party”. Ded Moroz and his snow-white granddaughter entertain children and their parents with verses, riddles and performances, sing and dance with them around the fir tree, and finally give gifts to children.

  5. In the Ded Moroz legend, Snegurochka is the Russian Santa Claus's granddaughter and helper and lives with him in Veliky Ustyug. She is most commonly depicted with long silver-blue robes and a furry cap. Just as Ded Moroz appears in various interpretations during the holiday season impersonated by men in costume, so does Snegurochka assume new guises around Russia to help distribute gifts. Snegurochka's name is derived from the Russian word for snow, sneg.

  6. Snegurochka of Russian Fairy Tales
    The tale of Snegurochka, or The Snow Maiden, is often beautifully depicted on hand-painted Russian crafts. This Snegurochka is the daughter of Spring and Winter who appears to a childless couple as a winter blessing. Unable or forbidden to love, Snegurochka remains indoors with her human parents until the pull of the outdoors and the urge to be with her peers becomes unbearable. When she falls in love with a human boy, she melts.

    The story of Snegurochka has been adapted into plays, movies, and an opera by Rimsky-Korsakov.