The Story of Father Frost

The Soviet Father Frost And How They Changed Christmas

In Russia, Santa Claus is known as Father Frost. He is usually illustrated with his granddaughter, the snow maiden, Snegurochka riding with an evergreen tree and presents in a traditional Russian troika

The original Russian gift-giver was Saint Nicholas, the country’s Patron Saint, whose Feast Day is celebrated on December 6th. In the late 1900s, Ded Moroz (pronounced as “Dead Morose”), meaning Father or Grandfather Frost, surfaced in Russia as one of the most modern gift-givers of Europe.

Usually appearing as a tall, thin man with a long white beard, he often wore flowing robes of blue and white. He was said to have lived in the Russian woods and journeyed in a “troika,” or sleigh drawn by three horses abreast.

Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden (a character from a famous Russian fairy tale) was said to assist Ded Moroz in the delivery of his gifts to the Russian children. Later in the Twentieth Century, Snegurochka became known as Ded Moroz’s granddaughter.

With the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, Lenin instituted an atheistic society that outlawed Christianity and banished Ded Moroz¬†into exile. New Year’s Day became the traditional winter holiday during which families gathered around their “yolochka” (now called the “New Year’s Tree”) and exchanged presents.

Today, Ded Moroz and Snegurochka make appearances at children’s parties during the Christmas season, distributing presents and forever fighting off the evil witch, Baba Yaga, who tries to steal the gifts. Russian families can board trains and travel to the picturesque village of Viliky Ustyug in the Vologodskaya Region of Northern Russia (approximately 500 miles northeast of Moscow) where, situated in the dense taiga forest at the confluence of three rivers, sits the little log cabin of Ded Moroz.

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