Did you know it takes 10 cm of snow to equal 10 mm of rainfall? Just thought I’d throw out a factoid before getting down to the actual post
We held him off as long as we possibly could, but Old Man Winter’s gotten the snow ball rolling now. Hopefully we’re not in for crushing cold and deeps drifts until January.
Old Man Winter comes from Russia. They call him Morozko in Siberia and have a story about him.
A widower with a daughter remarries a woman who brings a daughter of her own into the household and dotes on her exclusively. The treatment of her step-daughter is similar to Cinderella’s in terms of giving her piles of work and never being satisfied. And, like Snow White, Stepmom insists the girl has got to go. Father reluctantly agrees to toss his daughter into the cold forest and leave her there.
The things people do for love.
Morozko finds the girl shivering in the snow and offers assistance, which she insists she doesn’t need and thanks him for asking. He gives her furs and a blanket anyway then wanders off. This goes on for a while – Morozko checking on her, getting her a box to sit on, jewelry for some reason. Girls like baubles; keeps them distracted when they lose feeling in their fingers.
Step-mom suggests hubby go back and get the body (people might talk, you know) and when he arrives where he dropped her, he’s amazed to see her well and finely dressed. He hurries her home with the box of jewels and shows his wife. She’s annoyed to find her ploy failed but insists he drop her darling girl in the snow as well so they can get more jewels. But, when Morozko comes by and asks the second girl how she’s doing, she’s extremely rude and insults him.
Russia also has several styles of Santa Claus in its folklore. One in particular was Ded Moroz.
His roots are in pagan beliefs, but since 19th century his attributes and legend were shaped under literary influences. He, together with Snegurochka, were “fleshed out” from a kind of a winter sprite into what he is now. The fairy tale play Snegurochka by the famous Russian playwright Alexander Ostrovsky was influential in this respect, followed by Rimsky-Korsakov’s Snegurochka with libretto based on the play.
Only by the end of the 19th century did Ded Moroz win a “competition” between the various mythical figures who were in charge of New Year presents: Grandfather Nicholas, Santa Claus, Ded Treskun, Morozko, simply Moroz, etc. He perfectly fits the Russian traditions, so that there was a widespread opinion that he has been known to Russians for centuries.
After the Russian Revolution, when in 1920s Bolsheviks started to wage a campaign against religion and superstitions, Ded Moroz and the New Year Tree were banned in 1928, and Ded Moroz was declared “an ally of the priest and kulak”.. Joseph Stalin restored the tradition in 1935, after the recommendation of Pavel Postyshev, who had considered the traditions as a tool with which to fight both Christianity and to mobilize the workers. In 1937, Ded Moroz for the first time arrived at the Moscow Palace of Unions. Since this time, an invitation to the New Year Tree at the Palace of Unions became a matter of honor for Soviet children. Several times, the coat of Ded Moroz was changed to not be confused with Santa Claus; it was made blue. Joseph Stalin ordered Palace of Unions’ Ded Morozes to wear only blue coats.
And once again I find myself wishing I’d had more interest in history at an earlier age. It’s a pain having to try and learn everything now.
But, better late than never, eh?