Veliky Ustyug - Hometown of Ded Moroz
A twenty-two hour train ride north-east of Moscow brings you to the town of Veliky Ustyug. In 1998 it became home to Ded Moroz, the main holiday-season miracle-maker. The project "Veliky Ustyug - Hometown of the Russian Ded Moroz" was initiated by Administration of Moscow and the Vologda Oblast Government. The main objective of the project is to acquaint the younger generation with the Russian national traditions and the culture of the Russian North as well as to attract Russian and foreign tourists to Veliky Ustyug.
In Russia Santa Claus is called Ded Moroz, who, unlike the Catholic tradition, appears not only on the Christmas Eve, but reigns all winter long, keeping an eye on the snow in the forests, ice on the rivers and preventing the animals from being frozen. Ded Moroz holds court at his castle, a strict gentleman in a Russian troika, a three-horse drawn sleigh. This character is straight out of Russian folklore.
Ded Moroz lives more than 600 miles (1000 kilometers) northeast of Moscow in his wooden palace in the pine forests at Votchina 15 km off the town of Veliky Ustyug on a cliff above the Sukhona River.
His residence includes not only the house of Ded Moroz, but also comfortable cottages made of wood, a restaurant, a recreation centre with a sauna, a swimming pool and a billiard room. Here you can find a wide range of sports facilities such as skis, sledges, boats, fishing-rods, ets. These facilities are spread throughout the territory and include sports to suit every taste. You can ride a horse, sing and dance in a ring or take part in special competitions.
Ded Moroz’s workshop is upstairs, next to the throne room. Children and adults can make their own souvenirs here. These include birch bark ornaments, delicately imprinted with patterns, traditional rag dolls and lace.
His estate with its whimsical chambers hosts many festivals, competitions and New Year’s celebrations. This is also where Russian kids address their letters when they write to share their New Year’s wishes with Ded Moroz.
In the town of Veliky Ustyug tourists can visit special shop of Ded Moroz, where they can buy New Year souvenirs and books about the project "Veliky Ustyug - Hometown of Russian Ded Moroz".
The post office in Veliky Ustyug must be one of the busiest in all Russia, it delivers and sends all the correspondence of Ded Moroz. Both children and grown-ups in Veliky Ustyug can send post-cards and letters with a special seal and autograph of Ded Moroz to their relatives and friends. Over the years of its operation the post office of Ded Moroz has received about 1200000 letters both from Russia and from all over the world. Children often send not only letters, but also their pictures, poems and kind congratulations to Ded Moroz. The postmen of Ded Moroz send replies to the letters mailed to the most remarkable resident of Veliky Ustyug.
Other attractions of Russian Santa’s woodland home include the “path of fairy tales,” an outdoor obstacle course where tourists can meet a number of characters from Russian folklore. Some of these are quite well known, like the witch Baba Yaga, played by a man in drag, but Baba Yaga’s good counterpart “Zhar Baba” (“Granny warmth”) seems to have been largely invented as an excuse for visitors to sit by the fire in a log house hung with dried flowers and drink herb tea from the samovar.
The joint-stock company "Ded Moroz" offers the variety of travel programs that provide a true air of New Year's fairy tale atmosphere and the focus on the pure pleasures of the great outdoors. Thousands of children and grown-ups from different Russian regions flood to the hometown of Ded Moroz every year.
It has become customary to organize special New Year festivals and amusing competitions both for children and grown-ups in Veliky Ustyug. The events are accompanied by firework and music. The winners get prizes from Ded Moroz and Snow-Maiden.
Article about Ded Moroz written by Nicky Gardner and reproduced here by courtesy of hidden europe