Ded Moroz

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Ded Moroz Ded Moroz 72.jpg
Ded Moroz
Ded Moroz parade in Russia, Moscow Parade Ded Moroz (1).jpg
Ded Moroz parade in Russia, Moscow
Two Ded Morozas with Snegurochka Dedmoroz.jpg
Two Ded Morozas with Snegurochka

Ded Moroz (Russian : Дед Мороз, Ded Moroz [dʲɛt mɐˈros] ; Belarusian : Дзед Мароз, Dzyed Maróz; Ukrainian : Дід Мороз, Did Moróz; Russian diminutive Russian : Дедушка Мороз, Dédushka Moróz; Serbian : Деда мраз / Deda Mraz; Bulgarian : Дядо мраз / Dyado Mraz; Slovenian: Dedek Mraz; also Morozko (Russian : Морозко)) is a fictional character similar to that of Father Christmas and Santa Claus and has its roots in Slavic paganism mythology. [1] The tradition of Ded Moroz is mostly spread in East Slavic countries and is an important part of Russian culture. Although at the beginning of the Soviet era communists banned Ded Moroz he soon became an important part of the Soviet culture. The literal translation is "Grandfather Frost".

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is an official language in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Belarusian is an East Slavic language spoken by Belarusians. It is the official language of Belarus, along with the Russian language. It is additionally spoken in parts of Russia, Poland and Ukraine by Belarusian minorities in those countries.

Ukrainian language language member of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages

Ukrainian is an East Slavic language. It is the official state language of Ukraine and one of the three official languages in the unrecognized state of Transnistria, the other two being Romanian and Russian. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic script.


Ded Moroz is depicted as bringing presents to well-mannered children, often delivering them in person on New Year's Eve.

New Years Eve holiday celebrated on 31 December

In the Gregorian calendar, New Year's Eve, the last day of the year, is on December 31. In many countries, New Year's Eve is celebrated at evening social gatherings, where many people dance, eat, drink, and watch or light fireworks. Some Christians attend a watchnight service. The celebrations generally go on past midnight into New Year's Day, 1 January.

In East Slavic cultures, Ded Moroz is accompanied by Snegurochka (Russian : Снегурочка, Snegurochka; Ukrainian : Снігуронька, Snihurónka; "Snow Maiden"), his granddaughter and helper, who wears long silver-blue robes and a furry cap [2] or a snowflake-like crown. [3] She is a unique attribute of Ded Moroz, since similar characters in other cultures do not have a female companion. [4]

East Slavs Slavic peoples speaking the East Slavic languages (Belarusian, Russian, Rusyn, Ukrainian people); formerly the main population of the Kievan Rus

The East Slavs are Slavic peoples speaking the East Slavic languages. Formerly the main population of the loose medieval Kievan Rus federation state, by the seventeenth century they evolved into the Belarusian, Russian, Rusyn and Ukrainian people.

Snegurochka helper and granddaughter of Ded Moroz in Russian Christmas and New Year traditon

Snegurochka (diminutive) or Snegurka, or The Snow Maiden, is a character in Russian fairy tales.

Ded Moroz wears a heel-length fur coat, a semi-round fur hat, and valenki on his feet. He has a long white beard. He walks with a long magic staff [5] and often rides a troika.

Fur clothing clothing made of furry animal hides

Fur clothing is clothing made of furry animal hides. Fur is one of the oldest forms of clothing, and is thought to have been widely used as hominids first expanded outside Africa. Some view fur as luxurious and warm; however, others reject it due to moral concerns for animal rights. The term 'fur' is often used to refer to a coat, wrap, or shawl made from the fur of animals. Controversy exists regarding the wearing of fur coats, due to animal cruelty concerns. The most popular kinds of fur in the 1960s were blond mink, silver striped fox and red fox. Cheaper alternatives were pelts of wolf, Persian lamb or muskrat. It was common for ladies to wear a matching hat. However, in the 1950s, a 'must have' type of fur was the mutation fur and fur trimmings on a coat that were beaver, lamb fur, Astrakhan and mink.

Valenki traditional Russian winter footwear of felt

Valenki are traditional Russian winter footwear, essentially felt boots: the name valenok literally means "made by felting". Valenki are made of wool felt. They are not water-resistant, and are often worn with galoshes to keep water out and protect the soles from wear and tear. Valenki were once the footwear of choice for many Russians, but in the second half of the 20th century they lost most of their appeal in cities, due to their association with rustic dress.

Walking stick stick used to assist with walking, especially one carried as a fashionable accessory

A walking stick or walking cane is a device used primarily to aid walking, provide postural stability or support, or assist in maintaining a good posture, but some designs also serve as a fashion accessory, or are used for self-defense.

The residence of Ded Moroz in Russia is considered to be the town of Veliky Ustyug, Vologda Oblast. [5] The residence of the Belarusian Dzyed Maroz is said to be in Belavezhskaya Pushcha.

Veliky Ustyug Town in Vologda Oblast, Russia

Veliky Ustyug is a town in Vologda Oblast, Russia, located in the northeast of the oblast at the confluence of the Sukhona and Yug Rivers. As of the 2010 Census, its population was 31,665.

Vologda Oblast First-level administrative division of Russia

Vologda Oblast is a federal subject of Russia. Its administrative center is Vologda. Population: 1,202,444. The largest city is Cherepovets, the home of the Severstal metallurgical plant, the largest industrial enterprise in the oblast.

Białowieża Forest old forest in Poland and Belarus

Białowieża Forest is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain. The forest is home to 800 European bison, Europe's heaviest land animal. UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme designated the Polish Biosphere Reserve Białowieża in 1976 and the Belarusian Biosphere Reserve Belovezhskaya Puschcha in 1993. In 2015, the Belarusian Biosphere Reserve occupied the area of 216,200 ha, subdivided into transition, buffer and core zones. The forest has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an EU Natura 2000 Special Area of Conservation. The World Heritage Committee by its decision of June 2014 approved the extension of the UNESCO World Heritage site “Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Białowieża Forest, Belarus, Poland”, which became “Białowieża Forest, Belarus, Poland”. It straddles the border between Poland and Belarus, and is 70 kilometres north of Brest, Belarus and 62 kilometres southeast of Białystok, Poland. The Białowieża Forest World Heritage site covers a total area of 141,885 ha . Since the border between the two countries runs through the forest, there is a border crossing available for hikers and cyclists.

Development of the character

Ded Moroz in Veliky Ustyug, Russia Ded Moroz.jpg
Ded Moroz in Veliky Ustyug, Russia
Ded Moroz on a Ukrainian postage stamp with New Year greeting Novogodnie marki Ukrainy Ded Moroz.jpg
Ded Moroz on a Ukrainian postage stamp with New Year greeting
Snow sculpture of Ded Moroz in Samara SnowDedMoroz.jpg
Snow sculpture of Ded Moroz in Samara
Viktor Vasnetsov: Ded Moroz 1885 Ded Moroz.jpg
Viktor Vasnetsov: Ded Moroz 1885
Anti-Ded Moroz Soviet propaganda, 1928 Anti Did Moroz soviet propaganda.jpg
Anti-Ded Moroz Soviet propaganda, 1928

The origins of the character of Ded Moroz predates Christianity as a Slavic wizard of winter. According to some sources in Slavic mythology, Ded Moroz, back then also called Morozko or Ded, is a snow demon. [6] [7] However, before the Christianity of Rus' the term demon had no negative connotation. Like with many other mythical figures only over time demons were attributed negative characteristics. [8]

Under the influence of Orthodox traditions, the character of Ded Moroz was transformed. Since the 19th century the attributes and legend of Ded Moroz have been shaped by literary influences. The play Snegurochka by Aleksandr Ostrovsky was influential in this respect, as was Rimsky-Korsakov's Snegurochka with libretto based on the play. [5] [9] By the end of the 19th century Ded Moroz became a popular character. [4]

A man dressed as Ded Moroz in a blue coat Ded Moroz Blue.jpg
A man dressed as Ded Moroz in a blue coat

Following the Russian Revolution, Christmas traditions were actively discouraged because they were considered to be "bourgeois and religious". [10] Similarly, in 1928 Ded Moroz was declared "an ally of the priest and kulak ". [11] Nevertheless, the image of Ded Moroz took its current form during Soviet times, becoming the main symbol of the New Year's holiday (Novy God) that replaced Christmas. Some Christmas traditions were revived following the famous letter by Pavel Postyshev, published in Pravda on December 28, 1935. [10] Postyshev believed that the origins of the holiday, which were pre-Christian, were less important than the benefits it could bring to Soviet children. [11]

In modern Russia

Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation visiting Ded Moroz' residence in Veliky Ustyug on January 7, 2008 Vladimir Putin 7 January 2008-7.jpg
Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation visiting Ded Moroz' residence in Veliky Ustyug on January 7, 2008

Ded Moroz is very popular in modern Russia. [12] In 1998, the town of Veliky Ustyug in Vologda Oblast, Russia was declared the home of the Russian Ded Moroz by Yury Luzhkov, then Mayor of Moscow. [13] Between 2003 and 2010, the post office in Veliky Ustyug received approximately 2,000,000 letters from within Russia and from all over the world for Ded Moroz. [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] On January 7, 2008, then President Putin of the Russian Federation visited Ded Moroz' residence in the town of Veliky Ustyug as part of the Russian Orthodox Christmas Eve celebration. [18]

The western Santa Claus made inroads in the Russian Federation during the "turbulent" 1990s when Western culture increased its penetration into the post-Soviet Russia. [19] [20] The resurgence of Russia in the early 21st century brought about a renewed emphasis on the basic Slavic character of Ded Moroz. [21] This included the Russian Federation and subordinate governments sponsoring courses about Ded Moroz every December, with the aim of establishing appropriate Slavic norms for Ded Moroz and Snegurochka ("Snow Maiden" - Ded Moroz' granddaughter) roles for the New Year holiday. [20] [22] [23] People playing Ded Moroz and Snegurochka now typically make appearances at children's parties during the winter holiday season, distributing presents and fighting off the wicked witch, Baba Yaga, who children are told wants to steal the gifts. [24]

In November and December 2010, Ded Moroz was one of the candidates in the running for consideration as a mascot for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. [13]

Variations of Ded Moroz in ethnic minority groups of Russia

Many ethnic minorities have for linguistic reasons other names for Ded Moroz or even have their own culture-equivalent counterparts to Ded Moroz. For example, in Bashkir Ded Moroz is known as Ҡыш бабай (Qïš babay, literally: "Winter Old Man"), in Tatar it has similar spelling Qış Babay ( Кыш бабай ) with the same meaning. In Nenets he is known as Yamal Iri ("Grandfather of Yamal"). [25] The Yakut indigenous people have their own counterpart to Ded Moroz, which is called Chys Khaan ("Master of Cold"). [26]

International relations of Ded Moroz

Ded Moroz, and on occasion the Belarus Dzied Maroz, are presented in the media as being in on-going détente with various counterparts from other cultures, such as the Estonian Santa Claus (Jõuluvana or "Old man of Christmas"), the Finnish Santa Claus ( Joulupukki or "Yule Goat"), and other Santa Claus, Father Christmas, and Saint Nicholas figures. Some people also say, that Ded Moroz is Santa Claus's grandfather. [27] [28] [29] [30] The détente efforts portrayed have included one-on-one meetings, group meetings and friendly competitions, such as the annual November Santa Claus championships of Celle, Germany. [31] [32] [33]

GLONASS Tracks Ded Moroz

In November 2009, for the first time, the Russian Federation offered competition to NORAD Tracks Santa with GLONASS Tracks Ded Moroz, which purports to use GLONASS (GLObal NAvigation Satellite System or "the Russian GPS") to track Ded Moroz on New Year's Eve (according to the Gregorian Calendar). [34]

The Russian-language website provides "real-time tracking" of Ded Moroz, "news" of Ded Moroz throughout the year, a form to send e-mail to Ded Moroz, photos, videos, streaming audio of Russian songs, poems and verses from children's letters to Ded Moroz, information on Veliky Ustyug in Vologda Oblast (considered to be Ded Moroz's hometown) and opportunities to enter competitions and win prizes. [35]

Regional differences and controversies

There are equivalents of Ded Moroz and Snegurochka all over the former USSR, as well as the countries once in the so-called Eastern bloc and in the former Yugoslavia. After the Dissolution of the Soviet Union, some of these countries made efforts to move away from Soviet and Russian heritage toward their own ancient traditions.


The Armenian name for Ded Moroz is Dzmer Pap, literally Grandfather Winter. His loyal granddaughter Dzyunanushik, whose name means Snow Sweetie, or Snow Anush (a popular Armenian female name), is another counterpart of Snegurochka. The tradition was set throughout the times of the Russian Empire after the Russo-Persian War (1826-1828), when Eastern Armenia was joined to Russia according to the 1828 Treaty of Turkmenchay. [36]

For almost 160 years of influence Dzmer Pap and Dzyunanushik have hardly changed their appearance or behavior: they come in red, blue or white winter fur coats and, bringing presents to children, expect them to sing songs or recite poems. They are parts of New Year and Christmas matinées and shows in Armenia. In the recent decades well-off parents have developed a tradition to invite Dzmer Pap and Dzyunanushik to their children.


In Azerbaijani, Ded Moroz is known as Şaxta Baba ("Grandfather Frost") and his companion Snegurochka is known as Qar Qızı ("Snow Girl"). In the predominantly Muslim but secular country, where Christians are a very small minority, this tradition remains very popular. Şaxta Baba brings gifts to children at New Year celebrations, however Qar Qızı is rarely present at the festivities.


Ded Moroz is Dzied Maroz (Belarusian : "Дзед Мароз") in Belarusian language. He is not a historical folkloric Belarusian character, [37] [38] but was a replacement of the local Śviaty Mikałaj – whom Soviet authorities disapproved for its Christian origins.

The official residence of Dzied Maroz in Belarus is declared to be in Bialowieza Forest. [37] [38]


The Bulgarian name of Santa Claus is Дядо Коледа (Dyado Koleda, Grandfather Koleda), with Dyado Mraz (Дядо Мраз, "Grandfather Frost") being a similar Russian-imported character lacking the Christian connotations and thus popular during Communist rule. However, he has been largely forgotten since 1989, when Dyado Koleda again returned as the more popular figure. [39]

Former Yugoslavia

In socialist Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia) the character who was said to bring gifts to children was called "Grandfather Frost" (Bosnian: Djed Mraz (Дјед Мраз) or Djeda Mraz (Дједа Мраз); Croatian: Djed Mraz; Macedonian: Дедо Мраз (Dedo Mraz); Serbian: Деда Мраз (Deda Mraz); Slovenian: Dedek Mraz). He was said to bring gifts for the New Year because public celebration of Christmas was frowned upon during communism. [40] [41] [42]

In Croatia after the breakup of Yugoslavia, Djed Mraz was labeled communist creation and Djed Božićnjak (literally: "Grandfather Christmas") was introduced. Attempts were made in the mass media and advertising to replace Djed Mraz with Djed Božićnjak. After 1999 the names of Djed Mraz and Djed Božićnjak became more or less synonymous, including in their use on public television. In some families Djed Mraz is still said to brings gifts at New Year. [43] In Croatia, children also get presents on December 6. Due to historical influence of Austrian culture in parts of Croatia, presents are also said to be brought by a traditional figure called Sveti Nikola ("Saint Nicholas") who closely resembles Djed Mraz or Djed Božićnjak, except for the fact that he is accompanied by Krampus who takes misbehaving children away, another character from Central European folklore. [44] In some religious families, little Jesus (Isusek, Mali Isus, Kriskindl) is said to brings gifts at Christmas instead of Djed Božićnjak. [44] Also, in some parts of Dalmatia the gifts are brought by Sveta Lucija ("Saint Lucy")..

Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

Ayaz Ata is the Kazakh and Kyrgyz name for Ded Moroz.


While there is no traditional analog of Ded Moroz in Polish folklore, there was an attempt to introduce him as Dziadek Mróz during the communist period. Communists, opposed to religion in general, considered Christmas and traditional Święty Mikołaj (Saint Nicholas) "ideologically hostile". [ citation needed ] Therefore, propaganda attempted to replace him with Dziadek Mróz. Authorities often insisted on using the figure in schools and preschools during celebrations and events for children. This was also supposed to create an illusion of cultural links with the Soviet Union. [45]


In 1948, after the Communists gained power in Romania, it was decided that Christmas should not be celebrated. December 25 and December 26 became working days and no official celebrations were to be held. As a replacement for Moş Crăciun (Father Christmas), a new character was introduced, Moş Gerilă (literally "Old Man Frosty", a Romanian language adaptation of the Russian Ded Moroz). [46] He was said to bring gifts to children on December 31.

Officially, the New Year's Day celebrations began on 30 December, which was named the Day of the Republic, since it was the day when King Mihai I of Romania abdicated in 1947.

After the Romanian Revolution of 1989, Moş Gerilă lost his influence, being replaced by Moş Crăciun. [47] [48]

Sakha Republic

Chys Khan is known as the master of cold, accompanied by the snow maiden Khaarchana. [25]


A man dressed as Dedek Mraz in Slovenia. Dedek Mraz.JPG
A man dressed as Dedek Mraz in Slovenia.

In Slovenia, the name Ded Moroz was translated from Russian as Dedek Mraz (literally, "Grandpa Frost"). Dedek Mraz is depicted as a slim man wearing a grey leather coat, which has fur inside and is decorated outside, and a round dormouse fur cap. This version of the character is based on traditional imagery, especially as depicted by Maksim Gaspari in images commissioned in 1952. [49] Although the name was translated literally from the Soviet figure, other names for the character were also considered: Sneženi mož ("the Snow Man") and oca Triglav ("Daddy Triglav"). [49] A female figure names babica Zima (Grandma Winter) was also proposed. [49] Initially he was said to live in Siberia, but with the Informbiro crisis and the schism between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union his home was relocated to Mt. Triglav, Slovenia's (and also Yugoslavia's) highest peak. Public processions featuring the character began in Ljubljana in 1953. [49] The notion of Grandpa Frost was ideologically useful because it served to reorient the December/January holidays away from religion (Saint Nicholas Day and Christmas) and towards the secular New Year. [49] After the ousting of Communism at the beginning of the 1990s, two other "good old men" (as they are currently styled in Slovenian) reappeared in public: Miklavž ("Saint Nicholas") is said to bring presents on December 6, and Božiček ("Christmas man"; usually depicted as Santa Claus) on Christmas Eve. St. Nicholas has had a strong traditional presence in Slovenian ethnic territory and his feast day remained celebrated in family circles throughout the Communist period. Until the late 1940s it was also said in some areas of Slovenia that Christkind (called Jezušček ("little Jesus") or Božiček) brought gifts on Christmas Eve. Slovenian families have different preferences regarding their gift-giver of choice, according to political or religious persuasion. Slovenian popular culture depicts Grandpa Frost, Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus as friends [50] [51] and has also started blending attributes of the characters, for example, mention of Santa's reindeer is sometimes mingled into the Grandpa Frost narrative at public appearances. Due to his non-religious character and strong institutionalization, Grandpa Frost continues to retain a public presence. [52]


In Tajikistan the tradition of Ded Moroz has continued. In Tajik, Ded Moroz is known as Boboi Barfi ("Grandfather Snow"), and Snegurochka is called "Barfak" ("Snowball").

In 2012, a young man dressed as Ded Moroz was stabbed to death in Dushanbe by a crowd shouting "You infidel!". The murder was motivated by religious hatred, according to the Tajik police. [53]

On 11 December 2013, Saidali Siddiqov, the first deputy head of the Committee for TV and Radio-broadcasting under the Government of Tajikistan, announced in an interview that "Father Frost, his maiden sidekick Snegurochka (Maiden Snow), and New Year’s tree will not appear on the state television this year, because these personages and attributes bear no direct relation to our national traditions, though there is no harm in them". [54] However next day this was denounced, and planned celebrations did include these despite objections of some religious figures. [55]


In 2014, Ukraine has attempted to replace Ded Moroz with Saint Nicholas (Святий Микола, Sviatyi Mykolai) which is more popular in Western Ukraine. [56] There were rumors that Ded Moroz imagery was discouraged by the authorities due to conflict with Russia. The Ukrainian Ministry of Culture refuted this. [57]


In 2012, Uzbekistan, a largely Muslim nation, moved away from celebrating Christmas and its historical characters. [58]

See also

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