Of Christmas and celebration!
Keeping on with the lovely holiday spirit, I would like to talk to you today about a few versions of Santa Claus that are slightly…different from what you are currently familiar with (starting with the bare-cheasted stud on the right):
- We had a Romanian version of Santa during the “red” times of our history, “Moș Gerilă” (photo on the cover, bare-chested like some sort of holiday superhero), inspired by the Russian “Ded Moroz” (Father Frost or Old Man Frost, more or less). He would bring gifts to children on 30th of December (Christmas wasn’t officially acknowledged) and he was said to arrive from the “east” (I would place him somewhere in Siberia – just go past the gulags). He was replaced by good old “Moș Crăciun” (Old Man Christmas, basically Santa Claus) after 1989.
- Ded Moroz – the character that played a similar role to Santa Claus in the Slavic cultures, under different variations: Dzied Maroz (Belarus), Dyado Mraz (Bulgaria), Djed Mraz (Croatia), Ded Moroz (Czech Republic), Dedo Mraz (Macedonia), Deda Mraz (Serbian), Dedek Mraz (Slovenian), Dziadek Mróz (Polish). He is said to have resided in the town of Veliky Ustyug in Russia and had quite the distinctive look – sometimes wearing a blue coat, like in a Pepsi Blue advertisement. He even had a daughter, Snegurochka!
Christmas has long been associated with family time, peace and quiet as well as gifts! Yes, Christmas is traditionally the holiday for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ – but nowadays we can still observe the religious holiday whilst we thoroughly enjoy the fruits of capitalism. And who would be better at delivering said gifts if not a grandfatherly character, with a long white beard, pink cheeks, a big smile on his face – a bit of a tummy as well, after all he is a jolly good fellow – and endless resources and logistical capabilities? No one would, that’s who!
In the end, regardless if you are a fan of Santa, Christmas, Jesus, of cards or carols, there is still something more to it. Perhaps it is the feeling of warmth in a cold late December* or the brightness of the lights in the absence of daylight or the sight of green trees in a white sea**. Even more than that though, I find that there is a feeling of joy, a feeling of belonging or maybe just one of longing for distant (perhaps even forgotten) places. I believe Christmas time is more than tradition, religion or consumerism: it is a time of reflection, of sharing and of coming together with people you connect with (by blood, creed or chance). I see Christmas as the best time to go home.
*available only for Christmases in countries with cold Decembers
**available only for Christmases in countries where it snows a lot