Voices from Russia

Sunday, 14 December 2014

14 December 2014. A Multimedia Presentation. Ho, Ho, Ho… po-stilom Russkoye! Dede Moroz in Veliky Ustyug

00 Dede Moroz. Veliki Ustyug 01. 14.12.14

The one-and-only truly legit and official 100% certified Kosher Dede Moroz House in Veliky Ustyug


Dede in Belarus… Dede is EVERYWHERE! You don’t have to know Byelorussian to have fun with this one


Rockin’ the New Year for the kids


00 Dede Moroz. Veliki Ustyug 02. 14.12.14

Here’s the New Year Yolka inside the Dede Moroz House… it’s secular, not Christian… PARTY FOR EVERYBODY!


The Buranovskiye Babushki singing Party for Everybody… and that DOES mean EVERYBODY…


Russian Ded Moroz… a Russian New Year song


00 Dede Moroz. Veliki Ustyug 03. 14.12.14


A modern New Year song (A Forest New Year’s) for kids… good stuff… smile awhile and remember your own childhood


Just a kids’ song… Two Cats… just fun


It’s that time o’ year, kids. It’s holiday time… don’t give me that “war on Christmas” crapola. Several religious and secular holidays DO coincide, so, “Happy Holidays” is more appropriate in a secular context. Of course, in Christian venues, “Merry Christmas” is welcome… but even there, one sees a place for “Happy Holidays”… ever heard of New Year’s or Epiphany? Remember, there’s a world of difference between “secular” and “secularist”. Furthermore, there’s nothing wrong with the latter, so long as it isn’t “theomachistic” or “anti-Faith”. I respect all faiths… including Secularism. I don’t hold with many of them, but I do respect the people who hold them.

Let’s keep the spirit of the season (and do pass the spirits, please… 80 proof or better, hon). After all, Dede is watching you… and he’s got a secret line to Santa!



Wednesday, 25 December 2013

25 December 2013. RIA-Novosti Presents… Let’s Meet Ded Moroz (Grandpa Frost)! Russia’s One n’ Only Answer to Santa Claus…

00 Ded Moroz. Grandpa Frost. 01. 24.12.13

Ded Moroz (Grandpa Frost), the Russian Santa Claus, has two homes, one in Veliky Ustyug, in northwestern Vologda Oblast, and the other in Moscow’s Kuzminki Park, where he spends the New Year’s holidays.


00 Ded Moroz. Grandpa Frost. 02. 24.12.13

Dede has a granddaughter, Snegurochka (the Snow Maiden).


00 Ded Moroz. Grandpa Frost. 03. 24.12.13

Traditionally, Dede travels by sleigh.


00 Ded Moroz. Grandpa Frost. 04. 24.12.13

Ahead of New Year’s, Dede has to morph into as many copies as we need to light up New Year’s Trees across the entire country.


00 Ded Moroz. Grandpa Frost. 05. 24.12.13

Dede reads the letters that children send to him to learn what each one of them would like to have for a New Year’s gift.


00 Ded Moroz. Grandpa Frost. 06. 24.12.13

Dede’s bedroom in his residence at Moscow’s Kuzminki Park.


00 Ded Moroz. Grandpa Frost. 07. 24.12.13

Performances dedicated to Dede are an essential part of New Year’s celebrations at Russian schools and kindergartens.


00 Ded Moroz. Grandpa Frost. 08. 24.12.13

Where his sleigh will not pass, Dede uses other modes of transportation, such as this air cushion vehicle in St Petersburg.


00 Ded Moroz. Grandpa Frost. 09. 24.12.13

Dede in a vintage car in a parade on St Petersburg’s Senate Square.


00 Ded Moroz. Grandpa Frost. 10. 24.12.13

Dede has many foreign colleagues, such as Norway’s Julenissen.


00 Ded Moroz. Grandpa Frost. 11. 24.12.13

Dede sitting in his Moscow residence


24 December 2013



Editor’s Note:

Dede is part of the secular New Year’s celebration… he isn’t religious at all. The hyper-religious can all get down from their high horses and they can all sit in the corner with their long faces, tight-arsed attitude, and general killjoy spirit. Meanwhile, the rest of us normal human beings can pop a cork or two and SMILE. God gave us this life, and it’s GOOD. Everything has its place, and the secular is just as important for us as the religious is. In any case, Dede is for EVERYBODY… New Year is a “Party for Everybody” (as Buranovskiye Babushki sang (click here for this fab song)). It’s a time when ALL of us can bow to one another, wish one another a good year, hug one another, be unashamedly happy, and do it as one. I see much good… and no bad… in that. Those who think otherwise can kiss my ass, and that’s that.


Sunday, 9 December 2012

9 December 2012. Christmas and New Year’s are on Their Way! Get that Letter to Dede NOW!

00 Ded Moroz. 09.12.12


Yeah… I ripped that line from Moscow Mailbag hosted by the late great Joe Adamov of Radio Moscow… yes, I know that one e-mails Dede nowadays. So, click here for the one-and-only real 100 percent unadulterated no bullshit website of the REAL Ded Moroz in Veliki Ustyug in the Russian Federation. Have fun as the season continues!


Monday, 28 May 2012

A Miraculous Revival Along the Vyatka


In Kirov (formerly Vyatka), artisans are reviving a unique craft-form, the world-famous Dymkovo clay figurines. Made of baked clay with bright ornamental painting, many experts consider them one of the wonders of Russia and one of its hallmark signature folk-crafts. Art scholars believe that the history of the Dymkovo figures go back more than 400 years.

They originated in the fishing village of Dymkovo, as potters and oven-builders lived there in Old Russian days. Scholars believe that the first figures moulded from clay were whistles in the form of horses, sheep, goats, and ducks. Craftsmen created them for the annual holiday Свистунья (Svistunyа) or “Whistling”, which honoured those killed in a battle in 1418 between the people of Vyatka and those of Veliki Ustyug. According to legend, during the night, not recognising each other, two friendly armies engaged in battle. Each year, the holiday remembered those accidentally killed in this incident. Later on, it took on festive overtones; the festival lasted several days, and people filled the air with toots from colourful whistles.

Over centuries, the holiday lost its original meaning, and the clay whistles turned into true works of art. Languid ladies with umbrellas, ruddy Hussars, riders on fancy horses, goats playing balalaikas… these and many other clay figures, and are now well-known, not only in Russia, but throughout the world. However, by the early 20th century, Dymkovo nearly disappeared from the artistic map of Russia.

Nadezhda Menchikova, the manager of a Dymkovo craft artel, told VOR, “By a miracle, the craft survived. The whole fate of the craft was in the hands of Anna Mezrina. At the beginning of the 20th century, only this old woman kept alive the art of sculpting Dymkovo figures. She didn’t even have her own house. She lived in the bath-house, owned by one of the richest merchants of the city. One morning, she went out with her cats in the sun, sat on a bench, and began to sculpt. The future artist Aleksei Denshin ran across her, he was then 16-years-old. Every day, he crossed the Vyatka River by boat, sat next to her, and wrote down everything that Anna said concerning the composition of the figures. He made sketches, and, after a while, he released home-produced albums with texts and illustrations describing the colourful hand-made figures”.

Only through these improvised albums did the story of the unique Dymkovo figures pass throughout Russia. However, it took almost another hundred years for true professionals of the craft to appear in Kirov. Olga Golovina became attracted to this challenging craft in 1988. An artist by training, she became interested in the patterns on the clay figurines and began to study them. Gradually, she began to make them herself. Today, she can’t imagine life without having her hands in clay. Her amazing figures are in museums and private collections, not only in Russia, but also in the USA and Germany. She said, “Before you sculpt, you need to feel the mood of the clay. This will determine if it will successfully take on the essence of the figure. Clay has a very whimsical nature; you must necessarily consider that. One day, I was with a blind lady. In the evening, I watched her shape a figure with her hands. To myself, I thought, ‘What you did, well, I’m going to have to break it in the morning. I’m going to have to break it and glue it back together again right’. Well, the next day came; I saw that her hands moulded the figure as it should be. I didn’t have to break anything”.

Today, Olga leads master classes on the art of clay sculpting. She holds classes for children and adults in a small room of the Museum of Applied Art. However, at present, her class doesn’t have a permanent venue. With an eye to the future, the Museum administration decided to recruit a whole class to teach students the art of moulding Dymkovo figures. However, in order to become an expert and master of this ancient craft, you must pass serious tests. You must be able to feel the clay, have a good understanding of colours, and be able to draw. Yet, the main condition is that you must be female and live in Kirov. In fact, according to ancient tradition, only girls who were born on the banks of the Vyatka River could sculpt in clay and paint whimsical figurines and children’s whistles.

 25 May 2012

Milena Faustova

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

The art of the Dymkovo figurine survived because of support from the Soviet state. This was not an isolated case… many folk arts survive today because they had state sponsorship in Soviet days. This is in marked contrast to “capitalist” societies that were quick to smash under “old” crafts to make way for their “Brave New World“. Oddly enough, the SOCIALISTS were (and are) the “conservatives”, and the rightwingers were (and are) the ” tear-it-down radicals”… fancy that…


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