Father Frost is a little like Father Christmas. He customarily appears with his granddaughter, a snow maiden called Snegurochka, and together they travel in a Russian troika, drawn by three horses, usually carrying an evergreen tree and presents. Father Frost is thought to have been a woodsman from northern Russia. During the late 1990s the village of Viliky Ustyug, in the Vologodskaya Region about 1,000 km north east of Moscow, was declared Father Frosts official home and today you can visit the region to see the log house home of Father Frost.
Father Frost is usually seen as a tall, thin man, with a long white beard, wearing flowing robes of red and white (his robes were blue during the communist period). Snegurochka, his Granddaughter, assists him with the delivery of his gifts to Russian children.
The Father Frost folk tale was recorded, and presented, in the early 1900s by Verra Xenophontovna Kalamatiano de Blumenthal although the folk tale itself dates back to the 17th century.
Saint Nicholas, known for his love of children, is thought of as the first Russian gift giver. He is Russia’s Patron Saint and his Feast Day is celebrated on the 6th of December.
Lenin outlawed Christianity during the Bolshevik Revolution (1917) and, with it, Father Frost and Snegurochka. Father Frost was reincarnated during the communist period as Ded Moroz and was always seen wearing a blue robe to distinguish him from the western image of Father Christmas. His granddaughter was known as the Snow Maiden during this period. New Year became the traditional holiday and the evergreen tree became known as the New Year’s Tree, the Novogodnaya Yolka . Today families still gather together and exchanged gifts around the Novogodnaya Yolka at New Year.
Today, Father Frost and Snegurochka are often seen at children’s parties during the Christmas season. Together they distribute presents and fight off the evil witch, Baba Yaga, who tries to steal the gifts.
Two beautiful paintings by Viktor Vasnetsov(1848–1926)
Genrich Manizer (Russian artist, 1847–1925) Christmas Tree Market