A Russian Folk Tale – Father Frost

Father Frost & GD 1

Moscow Ballet’s Ded Moroz and Snow Maiden

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.

christmas cf3bbedd2584 father frost with horses

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.

Father Frost

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.

Daniel Bibb photograph

Daniel Bibb photograph

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.

Father Frost & GD 2

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)

405px-Vasnetsov_Snegurochka V_Vasnetsov_Moroz-73

Genrich Manizer (Russian artist, 1847–1925) Christmas Tree Market

5 Genrich Manizer (Russian artist, 1847–1925) Christmas Tree Market

9 thoughts on “A Russian Folk Tale – Father Frost

    • LOL. Well I wouldn’t go that far but the background reading was fun, so thank you :). We live in a really interesting place Kathie, I’ve only been to bed for two hours as I’m on the hunt for some of the interesting stories about Sakhalinsk, and sleeping seems such a waste of time – thank goodness for holidays 🙂

  1. I love the idea of changing nothing more than the colour of his robe, and re-inventing him for Communism 🙂 Reminds me of the Christian adoption of the pagan solstice…

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