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Are Santa Claus and Grandfather Frost the same?

Let’s talk about differences between Western Santa Claus and Grandfather Frost.

Recently Russian Grandfather Frost became somewhat westernized, and younger generation of Russians cannot clearly distinguish one from another. During recent times Grandfather Frost began looking more and more like his Western cousin. The only thing that Grandfather didn’t give up – his granddaughter Snow Maid… She is still following him during winter holidays.

As I explain the differences, let me go back to early traditions and character of Grandfather Frost. First of all, Grandfather frost has nothing to do with Christmas and Christianity. He is an ancient pagan god of Slavs. He was not a kind character, but instead is powerful, strong, sometimes cruel and protective. He was famous for helping Russians win several wars against their enemies. Many times, in Russian history he froze foreign troops, helping Russians defeat the remaining invaders. Remember the story about Napoleon who lost his army and his glory in Russia during unusual, even for Russia, frigid cold in winter of 1812? Well, that was Grandfather’s doing.

Yet, in spite of his reputation, Grandfather Frost is always taking care of plants and trees, covering them with snow blankets. He is a protector of wild animals and is often followed by bears and wolves.

Grandfather Frost does not drive reindeers, at least he never used to. Sometimes he drives three white horses in an open sleigh. But most of a time he walks, which is why he is in such a great physical condition regardless his age. He doesn’t have “ beer gut”, or cookie gut as does Santa Claus. He also has teleportation capabilities, as he can appear instantly wherever he wants.

Grandfather Frost would never even think to get into any chimney, and until 20th century he would never have appeared in anybody’s house. Maybe he was afraid to melt?

Since the time of changing his character from gifts-receiver to gifts-giver, Grandfather Frost used his magic to bring presents to children without showing up. But again, during the last century he changed his habits and started showing up at winter holidays parties bringing a bottomless bag with unlimited presents in it.

Traditionally Grandfather Frost wore a long winter coat trimmed with white fur. His coat was silver or blue with a lot of crystal accents. During Soviet times, Grandfather Frost had to wear a red coat to match the Soviet flag. You must agree that the red color looked ridiculous in winter snowy surroundings, but, hey!, you have to do what you have to do.

Nowadays, he returned to his traditional outfit, although some of Grandfather Frost characters still wear long red coats. I assure you if you see a Grandfather Frost dressed in red coat today, he is not the “real” one.

Grandfather Frost wears white long pants and white Russian-style shirt under his coat. But to see his under-coat clothes would be totally against the real traditions. Grandfather Frost prefers “valenki” – traditional Russian winter footwear made of wool felt. They are the most comfortable and warm winter footwear for coldest Russian winters, but they are not precisely beautiful. On some special occasions Grandfather Frost wears fancy silver boots instead of “valenki”. He also wears a white fur trimmed hat with velvet of brocade top.

One of the most important Grandfather Frost’s accessories is his magic rod. It is made with ice and silver, with the top being a silver crescent moon. The rod has the power to freeze anything it touches and also create winds and snow falls.

Well, enough history. Time to start working on my Grandfather Frost’s costumes and accessories. It will take awhile.875a8375f91de049494d6073098e8a2f_292bf02eece796ecd543da453c0629af-400x300

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Midsummer dreams

Grandfather Frost

During these hot humid Southern summer days, my thoughts drifted to the times of cold weather, fir trees covered with colors and lights, snowflakes graciously dancing in the skies… Yes, I was dreaming about White Christmas.

I decided to follow my dreams and make a Christmas doll. How about Santa? I haven’t ever made one, but, hey, it is never too late! But on the other hand, show me any doll-maker who hasn’t made a Santa doll, preparing for Christmas! How many Santas do collectors want?

Tortured between “Why should I?” and “I want it!”, I decided that a Russian style Santa is a good compromise.

But I must tell you upfront that Russian style Santa or Father Frost is almost nothing like American Santa Claus! To be accurate, the real name of this Russian folk character is Grandfather Frost. He is really-really old, but very strong and powerful – he can freeze anything with a touch of his magic icy rod. It is he who puts the snow blanket all over the land. It is he who is the lord and master of blizzards, snowstorms, and freezing winds.

Russians always respected him and were afraid to make him angry. That’s why for centuries it was Grandfather Frost who received all the presents or “bribes”. Only in late 19th – early 20th century did Grandfather Frost become softer and started bringing presents to well-behaved children.

Personally, I think, it was his granddaughter – Snegurochka – Snow Maiden – who melted the old man’s heart and turned him into a kind and generous person.

How he got a granddaughter is a mystery. Nobody heard about Grandfather Frost being ever married or having children. One legend says that Grandfather Frost has a daughter – beautiful and the ever-young Lady Spring. Snow Maiden was her daughter. Apparently, the Snow Maiden not only inherited the cold nature of her grandfather but also the kindness of her mother Spring. Nevertheless, Grandfather Frost had the full custody of the child… (My understanding).

Since late 19th century, the Snow Maiden has always accompanied her grandfather during winter holidays, helping him bring presents to children.

One beautiful story about Snow Maiden tells about her desire to find and feel love. She asked her grandfather and her mother to allow her to go among people to experience love. … But this is another story…

So, back to Grandfather Frost… I am going to sculpt his face first.

In my next note, I will explain the main differences between Grandfather Frost and Santa Claus.ded-moroz-i-snegurochka