Ded Moroz, also known as Grandfather Frost is a mythical character in Slavic tradition who gives gifts to children like Santa Claus. The only difference between Santa Claus and Ded Moroz is that Ded Moroz personally delivers the gifts to children on the eve of Christmas and New Year. He distributes gifts to children at kindergartens and schools. He is often accompanied by his granddaughter, a snow maiden or snowflake girl ewaring silver blue dress and white fur. Ded Moroz's looks bear resemblance to Santa Claus as he has long white beard with long fur coat, hat and boots on his feet. However, he walks with a long magical staff in his hand. He lives in the town of Veliky Ustyu in Russia. It is believed that in ancient times Ded Moroz paid visit to children bringing them presents on 19th December. The date had since been changed to 25th December. In Ukraine, Christmas is celebrated on 7th of January.
Santa Of The Slavic Culture
According to the earliest accounts, Ded Moroz was initially depicted as being an evil sorcerer comparable to Old Slavic God of wind Pozvizd, God of winter Zimnik and the underworld God Korochun. It is said that Ded Moroz took great pleasure in kidnapping children by freezing them. He then asked parents of the children to offer ransom money to claim their children. Later, his character fully changed under the influence of conservation tradition. As a result, Ded Moroz character began to instill the characteristics of Saint Nicholas. Afterwards, his character was further molded by various literary pieces written by Aleksandr Ostrovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. So, towards the end of the 19th century, this mythical character Ded Moroz had already been established as gift provider for children on the eve of New Year in Russia.
After The Revolution
After the Russian Revolution, Christmas celebration was condemned as being too religious and Ded Moroz was pronounced friend of kulak and priest in 1928. By 1935, Pavel Postyshev played key role in restoring the Christmas holiday in Russia. Then, in 1937, for the first time, Moscow Palace of Unions welcomed the arrival of a man who played the role of Ded Moroz. Stalin instructed Ded Moroz to appear in blue coats so as not to be mistaken for Santa Claus. During Stalin's rule in Russia, Snegurochka, New Year boy and Ded Moroz became indispensable part of Christmas celebration. People attributed Snegurochka as Mary, New Year Boy as the Christ child and Ded Moroz as the Joseph.
After the communist regime spread to other parts of Europe, Ded Moroz became popular in Eastern European regions such as Armenia, Belarus, Croatia, Ukriane, Slovenia and Sakha Republic.
Today, Ded Moroz holds special place in the hearts of people of Russia. Yury Luzhkov, then Mayor of Moscow pronounced the town of Veliky Ustyug at Vologda Oblast in Russia as the native place of Ded Moroz in 1998. It was reported that between 2003 and 2010, the postal service department in Veliky Ustyug received nearly 2,000,000 letters for Ded Moroz from across the globe including Russia. Furthermore, Vladmir Putin paid a visit to the native place of Ded Moroz, Veliky Ustyug on January 7, 2008- on the eve of Christmas celebration.
In present day Russia, it is a common sight to see people wearing Ded Moroz and Snegurochka costumes during Christmas celebration and presenting gifts to children at various Christmas parties.
There are few regional differences in the depiction of Ded Moroz character. In some regions of Armenia, Ded Moroz is known as Winter Grandfather or Dzmer Pap. He is called Dzied Maroz in Belarus although he does not have any connection with the traditional Belarusian character. In Ukraine, Ded moroz is called Grandpa Frost or Did Moroz. The origin of Grandpa Frost in Ukrainian customs dates back to pre-Christian era. In Ukraine, the native place of Did Moroz is believed to be Rivne region. Until about a century ago, Ukrainians followed the custom of inviting Grandpa Frost for the nativity dinner and offering him a traditional dish called Kutia. This custom, however, has evolved under the secularist rule of Soviet Union and Did Moroz is now called for New Year celebration.
In Tatarstan, Ded Moroz is called Winter Grandfather or Qis Babay while Snegurochka is known as Snow Girl or Qar Qizi. In Tajik region, Ded Moroz is referred to as Grandfather Snow or Boboi Barfi and Snegurochka is referred to as Barfak.
There had been reports in 2010 that Ded Moroz was being considered as a mascot for the 2014 Winter Olympics due to be held in Sochi in Russia.
Ded Moroz is a mythical character who plays same role as Santa Claus in Slavic culture. Check out for more information on Ded Moroz in the following article.