Author: Blaine (---.ph.ph.cox.net)
Date: 12-30-05 09:29
Borrowed from Linda DeLaine in "Russian Life" website...............Whatever you call him, the Gift Giver of Christmas owes his existence and spirit of generosity to St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. Nicholas' Feast Day is December 6 and has been observed in Russia for centuries where St. Nicholas was once known as Father Christmas. St. Nicholas is, also, a Saint in the Roman Catholic Church. During the Soviet Era, the celebration of the Nativity of Christ was forbidden. But, the spirit of St. Nicholas endured in the person of Ded Moroz, Grandfather Frost.
The Russian Orthodox Church uses the Julian or old calendar, whereas most of the western world refers to the Gregorian calendar. The Julian places Christmas on January 7, on the Gregorian calendar; thus the Christmas season runs from January 7 until Theophany on January 19 (Gregorian). As a result of Martin Luther's reforms and the schism of the Catholic Church resulting in Protestantism (17th c.), the latter chose to not acknowledge St. Nicholas because of his close ties to the Church of Rome. Many non-church affiliated gift giver characters began to present themselves throughout Europe. Ded Moroz, or Grandfather Frost, came to Russia in the late 1800s, providing this country a counterpart to the Western, secular Santas.