Ded Moroz is a Slavic rendition of Father Christmas or Santa Clause, but does have stark dissimilarities to them. The name more directly translates to “Old Man Frost” or “Grandfather Frost”. Ded Moroz shares one similarity directly with Santa: he gives gifts to good children, though he does it in person on New Years Eve. He is accompanied by Snegurochka, who is his granddaughter and helper. She is adorned with a crown of snowflakes and a silver-blue robe. Ded Moroz wears a full length fur coat, valenki [Russian shoes] and carries a staff which he can use to make it snow. He sometimes rides in a troika, which is a Russian sleigh led by three horses. He is from either Veliky Ustyug, Vologda Oblast or Belavezhskaya Pushcha. Here is a good visual of the differences between Santa and Ded Moroz:
There are a few ways the character might have come about. He might have been the son of pagan gods or he might have been the snow demons knowns as Frost or Morozko. Popular literature in the 19th century painted the character in a more favorable light, which is eventually what popularized him. He is especially important in Russia, where in 1998 they made a point to define his hometown as being from Veliky Ustyug, Vologda Oblast. Much like NORAD does for Santa Clause, Russia’s agency, GLONASS, tracks Ded Moroz on New Years Eve.
While Ded Moroz is the most widely accepted name for him, he has different variations in the following countries:
Armenia – Dzmer Pap (Winter Grandfather)
Azerbaijan – Saxta Baba (Grandfather Frost)
Belarus – Dzied Moroz
Bulgaria – Dyado Koleda or Dyado Mraz (Grandfather Frost)
Yugoslavia – Djed Mraz and then Djed Bozincjak
Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan – Ayaz Ata
Poland – Dziadek Mroz
Romania – Mos Gerila (Old Man Frosty)
Tajikistan – Boboi Barfi (Grandfather Snow)
Ukraine – Since 2014, there has been a push for Saint Nicholas to replace Ded Moroz
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