Ded Moroz- Father Frost
A Deeper Exploration of the Spirits of Winter discussed in my earlier post.
Ded Moroz- “Old Man Frost” more frequently translated as “Father Frost” is a Russian personification of winter, with a long white beard and fur coat, who visits children to give them gifts. He is often accompanied by Snegurochka (don’t ask me to pronounce that one!) the “Snow Maiden” said to be his granddaughter.
Because of the strong ties between the Romanovs and the Russian Orthodox Church, the celebration of Christmas was banned by the Soviets and instead Dred Moroz was promoted instead of St Nicholas, and he brought gifts on New Year’s Day. Of course, after the fall of communism Christmas came back, but Dred Moroz and his equivalents in other Slavic countries continued. In some countries he visits on New Years, in others Christmas.
It’s not clear if Dred Moroz owes his origins to an earlier Slavic god, but he was not invented by Soviet propagandists, but is part of native Russian folklore. However, before the 19th century he seems to have been a more sinister figure which makes sense considering this is Russian winter we’re talking about.
Snegurochka- the Snow Maiden may have been a literary addition- seeming to originate from a couple of fairy tales written in the late 1800’s.
Poking around here are some more links I found:
Why Ded Moroz is Infinitely More Badass than Santa Claus Just a goofy blog post, but makes some good points
Ded Moroz vs. Santa Claus an advertising art studio’s analysis of visual differences between the two
Residence of Ded Moroz & Snegurochka a tourist website’s description of the village where they are fabled to live. Interestingly it mentions Ded Moroz being a smith who chains water in river and lakes with “iron” frost. Smiths show up a lot in folklore and myth as having magical powers.
Father Frost, Snow Maiden Iced Out of Tajik New Year’s Celebrations In former Soviet-ruled Central Asian countries, that are predominantly Muslim there is some controversy over these customs.