Russian Santa History and
Showcase
History of the Russian Santa or Father Frost

The
Russian Santa (Ded Moroz) is the descendant of the
folklore Morozka, who was initially an evil character who
would steal children from their parents.  Over time, he
became kind and began to give presents to children.  The
Russian Santa is accompanied by his granddaughter,
Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden.  She is dressed entirely in
white and usually wears a decorated crown.
The Russian Master Carver and the Russian Artist

You might be interested to know that a master carver of the
Russian Santas (and other items such as angels) may take
1 - 2 months or longer to complete a carving.  The carver
starts with one single large piece of dried and aged linden
wood.  He must then start to make the log take shape and
that is where the talent is displayed!   The master carvers
mostly create Russian Santas of 35 cm. or greater.  
Everything is created from one piece with the exception of
the Russian Santa's sack which may be attached by a peg
or free-standing.  Larger free-standing animals are also
carved from a separate piece.  Smaller animals can be
integrated into the
Russian Santa form such as when a
Santa is carrying a cat or a dog, or has a bear on his
shoulder.  It is also very common to have a small bird
attached by a peg  to the Russian Santa's hand, shoulder or
hat.  The carver may take special orders or he may make
certain forms that are very popular and then have slight
variations on those forms.  He may make  a sack over the
shoulder on one, and then the sack by the feet for another,
or have the head tilted to the left or to the right.  


The Russian artist then takes over.  The artist gets the blank
form of unfinished linden wood and must make a plan for
the design or pictures that will make the Santa come alive.  
Many of the pictures painted on the
Russian Santas are
scenes from fairy tales, the Russian countryside or other
folklore.  The troika is very popular as are Father Frost and
the Snow Maiden, Snegourcha.   Most of the Russian
Santas have the pictures painted on the front of the Santa's
cloak and the back of the cloak is painted with a floral
design.  When I asked one of artists the reason for this, she
told me that the back is "invisible" and wondered why I
would ask this question!   You can, however, find Santas
with paintings all around if that is what you prefer.  



One of the marks of quality is the face of the
Russian
Santa
.  If you look at how detailed the face is painted, then
you can judge the talent of the artist.  Most artists paint a
jovial expression with  twinkling blue eyes.  I do have a few
Russian Santas in my personal collection who appear to
be quite cranky looking!  The beards on the Russian Santas
can also differ.  Some artists even paint birds on the flowing
beards of the Russian Santas.  Most of the beards on the
Santas are quite full and you can even see a few that are
touching the waist of the Santa!  Nowadays, the artists
paints a matte finish on the Russian Santas.  Please look
below for examples of the lacquered finish which has a
very high gloss.       
Russian Santa face with blue eyes
different faces of Russian Santas
Russian Santa with brown eyes
Russian Santa
with brown eyes
Russian Santa with red berries in his beard
Russian Santa beards
with berries, snowflakes,
branches, or birds!
Russian Santa with snowflakes in his beard
Russian Santa with fir tree branches in his beard
Russian Santa with birds in his beard
Different faces of the
Russian Santas
lacquered Russian Santa
back view of lacquered Russian Santa
another example of a lacquered Russian Santa
Russian Santa lacquered face
Russian Santas with high gloss, lacquered finish
Under Communism in Soviet Russia, holidays such as
Christmas were not celebrated.  The Russian Father Frost
became the symbol of New Years.  Now the Russian
Christmas is celebrated on January 7 under the Russian
Orthodox calendar and New Years still remains one of the
most important holidays celebrated in Russia with  the tradition
of gift-giving, family gatherings, decorated trees and many
wonderful food dishes.    
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