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Known as the Russian Santa Claus, Ded Moroz makes his appearance on the New Year's Eve to offer gifts to children. Read to know all about this gift bearer of Russian tradition.

Ded Moroz

Ded Moroz, or Did Moroz, is the Slavic counterpart of the popular western gift-giving figure 'Santa Claus'. Ded Moroz, or the Grandfather Frost, is said to bring presents for children on New Year's Eve and delivers them going door-to-door at parties. Out of many non-church affiliated gift-giving figures that started appearing in the modern culture throughout Europe, Ded Moroz, or Grandfather Frost, was Russia's chief entry. He came into existence in Russian culture around the late 19th century when attributes of Ded Moroz started taking roots, under literary influences. One of the major influences on this Russian legend was that of the fairytale play, Snegurochka, written by the famous Russian playwright Aleksandr Ostrovsky. By the end of the 19th century, the legend of Ded Moroz gained immense popularity and became one of the most prominent mythical New Year gift-givers in Russia. Learn more about this popular Russian gift bearer in the following lines.

Ded Moroz Snegurochka

Ded Moroz is believed to be a tall, slender old man who has a long white beard. Long, elegantly embellished robes in red and gold are said to be his apparel. The costume, in which Ded Moroz is often portrayed, resembles a bishop's clerical garb; white lace surplice, red cossack, long red cope with gold embellishment and the tall, pointed Bishop's hat. During the Soviet Era, Ded Moroz's robes used to be light blue in color. It is believed that he dwells in a log house in the wooded village of Viliky Ustyug of Vologodskaya region which lies 500 miles way from Moscow, towards the northwest Russia. The conveyance of Ded Moroz is a troika, a highly adorned exquisite sleigh which is drawn by three horses. It is said that he is accompanied by Snegurochka, also called the Snow Maiden, who is his granddaughter.

Differences And Similarities With Santa
The major distinction that lies between Ded Moroz and the Western Santa is the way they offer their gifts. Unlike Santa, Ded Moroz doesn't arrive sliding inside a chimney. It is also said that he doesn't land his sleigh on roof tops. He visits only good boys and girls. However just like Santa, Ded Moroz doesn't visit the houses where the children are awake, even if they have been virtuous all through the year. The Russians, traditionally, leave out food for Ded Moroz, the way cookies and milk is kept out for Santa in the western countries.

In Modern Culture
Ded Moroz is a popular figure in modern day Russia. Yury Luzhkov, then Mayor of Moscow, announced the town of Veliky Ustyug in Vologda Oblast, Russia, as the home of the Russian Ded Moroz, in 1998. From 2003 to 2010, the post office in Veliky Ustyug was overwhelmed with about 2,000,000 letters, from all around the world, reaching there for Ded Moroz.

Like Santa, people make appearances as Ded Moroz and Snegurochka, carrying presents, at children's parties during the winter holiday season.