When we are talking about Christmas, the first thing we are thinking of is Father Christmas or Santa Claus. In most countries all over the world, people know Santa Claus as the jolly figure that gives presents to children who have been good throughout the year. Santa Claus will get into each children’s house, going down through the chimney while his raindeers are parked on the roof. He will get into the house and leave the presents underneath the Christmas tree. Most of the time, the families would make him some cold beverages along with the cookies. This is a grateful gesture for Santa for giving them presents as well as to warm his body upon the winter weather.
But different kinds of cultures have their version of Santa Claus. Take the Russians as an example. They have their version of Santa Claus or father frost. So, how does the Russian view about father frost? Let’s find out.
Russians’ Father Frost
Russians have their version of Santa Claus. There, they call it Ded Moroz, which means “Grandfather Frost”. This translation was then shifted so than most English speakers call it “Father Frost”. As one of the figures that they associate with Christmas, how does the Russian view about father frost?
- The Roots of Father Frost
As stated before, Father Frost is the Russians’ version of Santa Claus. This Christmas figure originally came from the Slavic paganism mythology. The tradition of Father Frost is mostly spread in the countries of the East Slavic. In these countries, it is very well known that Father Frost is accompanied by Snegurochka, who is Father Frost’s granddaughter and helper. She is iconic as the one that wears long silver-blue robes and either a furry cap or a snowflake-like crown. She is also known for her blonde hair, red cheeks, and smiling face. The look of Father Frost is different from Santa Claus’. He wears a fur coat that is so long it will touch his heels. He also puts on a semi-round fur hat, as well as valenki on his feet. He has a beard on his face. When he walks, he uses a long magic staff while when he is moving from one house to another, he is riding on his troika.
There were some times when the Soviet communists banned Father Frost. But, soon after that, it was started to be recognized as one of the most important parts of the Russians’ culture. So important, that one part of Russia, the town of Veliky Ustyug is considered as Father Frost’s residence.
- The Home Of Father Frost
How does the Russian view about Father Frost? They consider this figure as an important part of Christmas. As stated before, the town of Veliky Ustyug is Father Frost’s residence. This is not only a statement, because in 1998, Yury Luzhkov, then-Mayor of Moscow, did declare this town as Father Frost’s home. People reacted so positively to this declaration. This is proved by the fact that during 2003 and 2010, Veliky Ustyug’s post office received 2.000.000 letters from not only Russia but also all over the world. Can you believe 2 million people were sending Christmas letters to Father Frost? How fascinating! The icon got, even more, recognize when President Putin visited Father Frost’s hometown in 2008. This visit was done as a part of the Russian Orthodox Christmas celebration.
- Father Frost’s Traditions
The appearance is not the only thing that is different between Father Frost and Santa Claus. Santa has a sleigh with eight reindeers pulling it. On the other hand, Father Frosy has a troika consisted of three horses. We can say the three horses have at least the same power as eight reindeers right?
Another difference between Father Frost and Santa Claus is the time they are delivering the gifts. Santa Claus is going from house to house on Christmas eve. That way, the children will find their presents the next morning, on holiday. On the other side, Father Frost delivers gifts on the new year’s eve. Why? Because there was a shift happening during the Soviet time where Father Frost was linked to a more secular event than to Christmas. That is why the Christmas tree is also in every Russians’ house as a part of the New Year’s celebration, not Christmas’. In spite of that, Russians will still prepare the Christmas tree early because later it is used to mark both occasions.
Now we know how Russians view Father Frost. Next time you are there, make sure you have some time to visit his town!