There are many varieties of merry characters spreading good cheer around the world during the holidays. Once such holiday figure is a Slavic character, popular in Russia and Ukrainian cultures named Ded Moroz or Grandfather Frost. Unlike Santa Claus who leaves gifts while children sleep on Christmas Eve, Ded Moroz makes his deliveries in person on New Year’s Eve.
He is easily recognized his shirt and trousers are made of flax and decorated with white geometric patterns. His long fir coat is embroidered with silvery stars and crosses. His fur hat is embellished with pearls. He wears mittens and a wide white belt. His footwear is luxurious – high boots with silver ornamentation, but on chilly days Ded Moroz will opt for a warm pair valenki. He carries a magical pikestaff made of silver and crystal.
Snegurochka the snow maiden is Ded Moroz’s granddaughter and helps distribute gifts to the children. She wears an embroidered silver-blue robe and snowflake-like crown.
In North America, Santa makes his deliveries with the help of eight tiny reindeer. In Australia Christmas is in the summer – too hot for reindeer – so Santa employs kangaroos to make his deliveries. But in Russia, Ded Moroz drives a troika, a beautiful sled pulled by a team of horses (they don’t fly).
The troika is a sleigh pulled by three horses abreast. Troikas are driven so the middle horse trots and the side horses canter. The right hand horse will be on the right lead, the left hand horse on the left lead. At full speed a troika can reach 45-50 km per hour (28-31 mph) very fast travel and certainly a necessity to cover so much territory in a single night of holiday deliveries.