Christmas in Russia has always been a time of giving. So I am going to celebrate this joyous occasion by giving ISIS some of my favourite heavy ordinance, delivered courtesy of the Russian Air Force. Hey, do not forget to congregate in open spaces, you guys, so I can make sure that everybody gets some. Merry Christmas, from The Boss Of All Russia!

Grandfather Frost and his granddaughter, the Snow Maiden (Ded Moroz and Snegurochka).

Grandfather Frost is the Slavic equivalent of Santa Claus - he is very popular in Russia and brings gifts to children on New Year’s Eve.  From Wikipedia:

“The earliest tales of Ded Moroz presented him as a wicked and cruel sorcerer, similar to the Old Slavic gods ‘Pozvizd’ — the god of wind and good and bad weather, 'Zimnik’ — god of winter, and the terrifying 'Korochun’ — an underworld god ruling over frosts. According to legend, Ded Moroz liked to freeze people and kidnap children, taking them away in his gigantic sack. Parents were said to have to give him presents as a ransom in return for their children. However, under the influence of Orthodox traditions, the character of Ded Moroz was completely transformed, later adopting certain traits from the Dutch Sinterklaas (or Saint Nicholas), the prototype of Santa Claus. [ ]

Following the Russian Revolution, Christmas traditions were actively discouraged because they were considered to be "bourgeois and religious”. Similarly, in 1928 Ded Moroz was declared “an ally of the priest and kulak”. Nevertheless, the image of Ded Moroz took its current form during Soviet times, becoming the main symbol of the New Year’s holiday that replaced Christmas.“

Meet Russian Santa Claus:

External image


Djed Mraz, Ded Moroz, Moroz, Morozko (Grandfather Frost, Old Man Frost)

So I’ve always been interested in who exactly Djed Mraz is, because his name is the same in all Slavic languages and just because of this fact I was sure he predated what is today known as Djed Mraz which is basically the western Santa Claus. I finally did some research today and altho I could not find much information this is what I was able to put together.
Djed Mraz was not the goody-goody that brings presents to children like it is believed today, he was actually a giant snow demon whose very presence would freeze breath, rivers, lakes and seas and was fond of icing people. I found this Russian fairy tale (click for link) in which he appears and it reminded me of a German fairy tale I read as a child called Frau Holle (Gramdmother Holle,Mother Hulda) as it has very similar plot. Frau Holle is believed to bring snow in Germany by making her bed. (link for German fairy tale)

So they are both creatures that represent winter.
Djed Mraz also has  granddaughter Snegurochka and is a female counterpart unique for Slavic Mythology. She wears blue frock and furry hat or a snowflake crown. 

Altho I haven’t found this tale I have read that in one fairy tale she is the daughter of father Djed Mraz and goddess of Spring Vesna (Vesna-Krasna - Spring the Beauty) and she wishes for company of mortals so her mother gives her ability to love, but as soon as she falls in love her heart warms and she melts to her death.

I’m not certain, because I don’t know who the artist is, but I believe the image above represents either Djed Mraz with Snegurochka or him and Vesna, but I reckon it’s Vesna because of the flower wraith in her hair and her dress.

Interesting Tid Bit

In Russia Christmas is celebrated on January 7th (the Eastern Orthodox Christmas). The commercial version, with a “Santa” figure and a tree is celebrated on New Years. This version is completely secular and came to exist during the time of the Soviet Union and still remains true today.

So while I did not grow up celebrating Christmas, ever. I do know what it is like to have a tree and decorations and a “Santa” figure. 

So to me, New Years was always special, there was food, dancing, a tree and decorations, musical numbers, and of course Grandfather Frost and his Granddaughter the Snow Maiden came and went, delivering presents and bringing the New Year respectively.
Grandfather Frost and Baba Yaga: the weird and wonderful world of Russian fairytales
Russian fairytales have their wicked witches and handsome princes, but also houses that walk around on chicken legs and magic talking fish. So throw on your cloak and venture into the snowy forest to find out more about the wonderful tales of Grandfather Frost and Baba Yaga

A bit more on Russian fairytales and magic creatures.

Both Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) and Santa Claus bring presents and are much expected by the kids but there’re a few things that make them different.
1.    Ded Moroz is much taller than Santa Claus.
2.    Ded Moroz has a long beard, Santa often cuts his beard short.
3.    Santa’s coat is always red, while Ded Moroz can wear red, blue or even white coat.
4.    Ded Moroz is dressed much warmer than Santa. He has a warm fur-coat and fur-hat, mittens and felt boots while Santa wears a night cap with a bob, short jacket, gloves and black boots.
5.    Ded Moroz holds a staff in his hands. It helps him to walk across snowdrifts. 
6.    Santa Claus often wears glasses, while Ded Moroz has good eyes despite his age.
7.     Ded Moroz is usually accompanied by his granddaughter Snegurochka (Snow Maiden). Santa Claus is known to have a wife but nobody heard of his granddaughter.
8.    Ded Moroz walks on foot or travels by Russian Troika (a sleigh hauled by 3 horses), Santa Claus travels by air on a sleigh pulled by reindeers.
9.    Ded Moroz walks into a house through a front door, Santa comes through a chimney.
10.    Ded Moroz puts presents under a Christmas tree but not inside somebody’s sock

Words/expressions you might not know

much expected (by): ожидаем кем-то

fur: мех

mittens: варежки (не путать с перчатками!)

felt boots: валенки

staff: посох (не путать с другим значением этого слова - персонал)

snowdrifts: снежные заносы


Jack Frost

Jack Frost is the personification of frost, ice, snow, sleet, and freezing cold weather. 


Although there is some kind of variant of Jack Frost amongst different cultures, it is genuinely believed to have originated from Nordic or Anglo-Saxon roots. Jokul Frosti was the son of a wind god, and had control over the winter forces.

In Russia, he is portrayed as Grandfather Frost.

In Germany, the entity is female, and is known by Mother Hulda who lived in the sky and created snow by dropping white feathers from her bed.


During the 19th century, Jack Frost had been characterised to be sprite-like. Due to this, he was depicted to be small and of young age, either a young adult or a teenager. He may also have white hair, blue clothing, and icicles adorning his body.

However, often at times before he was depicted as an old man with a white beard.

He is commonly shown as a mischief-making spirit, carefree and happiest when he can behave as he pleases. Although he is said to be a friendly spirit, he can be very dangerous if one were to insult him - he will bring death by smothering them with snow or turning them into frost.

He is traditionally thought to leave the frosty, fern-like patterns on windows on cold winter mornings, as well as frostbites. He is sometimes described or depicted with paint brush and bucket colouring the autumnal foliage red, yellow, brown, and orange.

Ded Moroz (rus. Дед Мороз “Grandfather Frost”, aslo known as Морозко (Morozko), Студень (Studen’) or Трескунец (Treskunets)) — one of the most well-known characters of slavic folklore, a personification of frost and cold. He was often portrayed as either little silver-haired old-man or a stately giant. Regardless of his appearance, however, Morozko always carries his magic staff, which helps him to freeze objects and create blizzards and severe frost. There are numerous tales and stories about Ded Moroz freezing people to death if they dared to whine on the bad weather in his presence. At the same time, those who met him and blessed the frost despite feeling cold were given generous presents. People believed that “feeding” Moroz with pancakes and bread during the Svyatki season (a series of festivities in slavic tradition during orthodox Christmas celebrations) would please him and persuade not to be too severe with the weather.
The image of Ded Moroz as a kind old-man giving presents on the New Year night was formed only in the beginning of XX century and has a little in common with the original character.


As you may know, not all gift-bringers come at Christmas. Some come December 6, December 13, or January 6. Here are a few that for cultural, political, or religious reasons come on January 1:

1) Ded Moroz, or Grandfather Frost, and his granddaughter Snegurochka, or the Snow Maiden. Ded Moroz is perhaps the most widespread wintertime gift-giver after Santa/Father Christmas/St Nick, with equivalents and variants all across central and eastern Europe as well as norther and central Asia, such as Djed Mraz, Dedo Mraz, Dzmer Pap, Şaxta Baba, Dzied Maroz, Dedek Mraz, and many others. He is a formerly wicked wintertime wizard who now is good and brings gifts to children on his troika.

2) Saint Basil the Great, about whom I wrote at some length last year, comes on his feast day to Greece and Cyprus to deliver presents.

3) Namahage are not gift-bringers, but are troops of ogres who come down to the Oga Peninsula in Japan, looking for naughty, lazy children, brandishing knives and buckets.

4) Mother Goody, a figure so obscure that there are apparently no pictures of her on the internet, is a gift-giver in the maritime provinces of Canada, more specifically New Brunswick, more specifically Campobello Island. She comes on New Year’s Eve and fills children’s stockings with goodies. Some say she comes from Scotland, some say she is Santa’s wife, while others equate her with Frau Holda of Germany. Incidentally, if you or your family are from Campobello Island and know something about Mother Goody, please drop me a line, thanks.

Hopefully you get a visit from 1, 2, or 4, and not so much 3.

Happy New Year.

Santa around the world: An interactive map of holiday gift givers: So who exactly do we mean by ‘Santa’ or ‘St. Nicholas’? Depending on what country, language, and culture we are talking about, the gift-giving figure in Christian tradition varies in name, appearance, and myth – from Grandfather Frost in Russia, to Italy’s Befana, to Iceland’s thirteen jólasveinar. With the above map, you can explore some of the different Christmas gift givers across the world.