The arrival of the New Year is the most favorite holiday for children and adults. Indispensable attributes - fairytale characters Father Frost and Snow Maiden. We all come from childhood: believe in Christmas toys, as kids we wrote letters to Father Frost and searched for presents under a Christmas tree. Subsequently, our children and grandchildren draw their letters to this fantastic character. It seems that Father Frost was always there, but his story is long and complex. Where did this character and where he lives now?

Saint Nicolas

A prototype of the Father Frost is considered Saint Nicolas – the saint patron of travelers, children, the poor and the oppressed. According one of the legend he threw up in the house of the poor man three golden apples, which helped him to change his life. By another legend – he helped a man who became poor and thought to sell his daughters to save them from starvation. Nicolas threw up through chimney three purses with money. These purses fall either in the shoes or stocking of the girls which were dried near the fire. These stories are said to be the beginning of the tradition to present children gifts on 19 December ( St. Nicolas day) and the New Year.

St. Nicolas was transformed to the wizard who brings gifts to children by Martin Luther in the first half of XVI century. Incidentally, the same Martin Luther was the first to decorate the Christmas tree. In honor of the archbishop of Myra Martin named handsome old man, dressed in red kaftan as Santa Claus.

Santa Claus

The writer Washington Irving first time remember about him in 20th of XIX century. Santa Claus in one of the his children stories appears in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. In 1822 another American writer Clement Clark Moor wrote a poem “St. Nicolas arrival” about the meeting of a boy with St. Nicolas at the Christmas ever. Nicolas was there a handsome fat-swinger with a pipe. He brought a bag of gifts. Step by step the memory of the archbishop of Myra defaced in Germany and other countries and St. Nicolas finally transformed into Santa Claus.

Father Frost

In the second half of XIX century when Father Frost was “born” in Russia, it was not clear – will he be good or evil. Up to the revolution of 1917 he has no any relation with the New Year: when the winter was coming the Father Frost was coming too, he personified the winter frosts. On the V.M.Vasnetsov painting (end of XIX century) Father Frost is depicted as a regular mushik in coarse shoes and sheepskin.

In 1840 the book “Children tales of a grandfather Iriney” of V.F.Odoevsky was published. In one of its stories (“Moros Ivanovich”) there appeared folk image of Frost: the good Moros Ivanovich is a grey and old man, when he shakes his head – the hair fall down, he lives in ice house and sleeps in a snow fluffy feather bed.

At the same time and independently from the literary image the mythological personage is created in an urban environment – the fur tree manager. Father Frost first time appeared at the Christmas of 1910, but was not widely used. With starting in 1920th the antireligious campaign the fir tree and Father Frost were banned. Father Frost returned only in 1937 on the wave of party directive. At that time his duet with a Snow Maiden was born.

During the World War II Father Frost was appeared on the posters with a machine gun on his neck and a pipe on the hand.

Come to visit us

Snow Maiden. The Russian playwright O.M.Ostrovsky, who lived and worked in Kostroma district, wrote the play “Snow Maiden”. According the initial story the Snow Maiden – the daughter of the Frost and Spring – fell in love with shepherd and then she died from beams of Yarilo (Sun). To make a happy end the original story was transformed. The Snow Maiden had got the human heart, transformed into normal human girl and lived long and happily with her loved Lel. In Kostroma there are two Snow Maiden houses, one – private and second under the local hotel with the same name. In the second one house besides Snow Maiden’s apartments there is an interesting ice room. The temperature inside is maintained at level – minus 15 degree. There are here many of ice sculptures, there is even a bar with ice samovar.

There are several attempts to “settle down” Father Frost in Russian Federation: Arkhangelsk region and Kola Peninsula. Since 1998 a state tourist project “Veliky Ustyug – the motherland of Father Frost” is successfully operating. There is here Father Frost post, which receives numerous letters to him. Annually about 200 thousand letters from Russia, CIS and foreign countries come on the address: Veliky Ustyug, Vologda region, RF, 162390. There are here House of Fairy Tales, Fashion House, a smithy and other entertainment venues.

Zuza Poozerny. Belarus is not far behind its senior sister. Father Frost here also is settled by two addresses. The traditional one, in Belovezhskaya Pushcha (Kamenets district, Brest region ) meets guest all year around ( in summer usually the forest animals). The second one, from the old mythology, is a colorful Zuza Poozerny, the owner of the winter and the frost. He lives in Postavski district, Grodno district. Many lakes existing in this place give him the name. There are another personages of the celebrations - Sorceress Winter, Glacier, Goblin, bathhouse attendant, Hapun, Vuzhalak, Zawiya, grandmother Napastia and others. Children are treated with herbal tea and cookies, the adult visitors – with glass of vodka, fried bacon and pickled cucumber. The winter recreation place became almost a cult, it was loved by local people and numerous tourists.

Sant Nikolas in Ukraine lives on the address: house of St. Nicolas, village Pistyn, Kosivski district, Ivano-Frankivsk region, 78633. There are 7 rooms in his house. The main is of course the St. Nicolas post – the temple of children dreams with hundreds, thousands letters from all Ukraine. There St. Nicolas and his helpers are writing answers (last time there are 4 thousand of them). Here he tries to find sponsors, who can fulfill the children dreams. There are in the room of fairy tales dreams soft wooden bed, colorful rag, different toys, fluffy Christmas tree. In the neighboring rooms there are: a Christmas tree decorations exhibition, a class where children are learning to make decorations, a room for celebration events. There is also a room – museum of a nature, which helps visitors to open the world around. Many visitors come here in holidays.

The letters to St. Nicolas are divided here in three categories: from preschool children (the parents help a little to write the letters), from children of primary and secondary school age. The letters are with very different requests: St. Nicolas is asked to fill a bill, to give 10000 dollars as a gift, mobiles telephones, toy cars with very accurate instructions of the kind, dolls, how many kilo of mandarins, oranges – everything with complete set of instructions. Sometimes children ask some not very material, like peace and health for the family, sometime - brother or sister.

Therefore, despite the age, let's delve into a fairy tale, write a letter to the grandfather, let’s dream and wait, and if you can - even visit the fabulous winter estate.

N. Vdovenko

Дід Мороз В.М.ВаснецоваПерша листівка з Дідом Морозом, 1944 р.Листівка А.ЮрченкоЗюзя ПоозернийСвятий Миколай