Home » Culture and History

Ded Moroz: From Kidnapper to Gift Giver

20. December 2012 by Masha 0 Comments

While the estate of the Russian Santa Claus is open all year round, now's the time when locals and tourists alike flock to the festive forest to meet the man and his granddaughter helper. 


Ded Moroz, or Father Frost, and Snegurochka, or Snow Maiden, are iconic symbols of the Russian holiday season. They are dressed in vibrant blue robes and deliver New Year presents to children. However, the sweet story started off much more sinister. 


Earlier tales of Ded Moroz present him as a wicked and cruel sorcerer. According to legend, he liked to freeze people and kidnap children, taking them away in his gigantic sack. Parents would 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.


Since the New Year holiday replaced Christmas during Soviet days, Ded Moroz became the most popular mythical New Year gift giver in Russia and quickly became known all over the world. He's the only traditional gift giver with a companion! 


While the real Ded Moroz and Snegurochka must remain at Votchina for visitors, there are companies that rent out dozens of stunt doubles to appear at children's parties and schools. They may also include Baba Yaga, the wicked witch who Ded Moroz must fight off as she attempts to steal the presents.


New Year's Eve is the most popular time to see the duo delivering gifts to good boys and girls but in some cities they're already popping up with presents and surprises today.