Folklore Resources

Who is Grandfather Frost?

Grandfather Frost is a Russian counterpart of Santa Claus and Russian folklore’s answer to both Father Christmas and Jack Frost.

Grandfather Frost—Ded Moroz, Moroz, Zimnik, Treskun, Studenets—is a Slavic deity, Lord of the winter cold.

Differences between Grandfather Frost and Santa Claus

Both Grandfather Frost and Santa Claus bring joy and laughter during the holiday season, but there are a few things that make them different:


  • According to various sources, Grandfather Frost is more than two thousand years old. According to Slavic mythology, he was originally the lord of the icy cold and blizzards.
  • The modern image of Santa Claus (instead of European St. Nicholas) appeared in the U.S.A. on Christmas 1822.


  • Grandfather Frost is usually shown as a taller and more slender older man than Santa Claus who is portrayed having a jolly round belly.
  • Grandfather Frost’s beard is very long, white and fluffy as snow, while Santa often keeps his beard trimmed short.
  • Santa Claus often wears glasses, while Grandfather Frost has good eyesight despite his age.


  • Grandfather Frost is usually dressed much warmer than Santa. He has a heel-length coat in different shades of red, blue, green, brown or gold, lined or trimmed with fur and sometimes richly decorated with embroidery. He protects his feet from the cold by wearing traditional Russian felt boots called “valenki”.
  • In addition to his bag of gifts which is believed to be bottomless, Grandfather Frost holds a posokh (magical stick or staff). It helps him walk across the snowdrifts.
  • The lavishly-bearded Santa is usually shown as a figure clothed in a short red jacket with white fur trim. The rest of his outfit consists of trousers, held together with a broad black belt, a red night cap with a pom pom, gloves and short black boots.

Family and Helpers:

  • Grandfather Frost is usually accompanied by his granddaughter Snegurochka (Snow Maiden), a figure from Russian fairy tales. She is typically portrayed as blonde, rosy-cheeked, and smiling. Snegurochka also dresses in wintery colours and assists Grandfather Frost in his efforts to distribute gifts.
  • Santa Claus is known to have a wife, Mrs. Claus, and a whole brigade of elves helping him.

Way of Delivering Presents:

  • Grandfather Frost delivers gifts in person on New Year Eve. He comes through the front door exclaiming: “Hello kids!”, as he enters.
  • Sometimes Grandfather Frost puts presents under the Holiday tree, but never inside somebody's stoking.
  • Santa Claus (assisted by his trusted elves) delivers gifts by coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve.

Way of Traveling

  • Grandfather Frost walks on foot or travels by Russian Troika—a sleigh drawn by three horses.
  • Santa Claus travels by air in a sleigh pulled by Rudolph and the other reindeer.

Grandfather Frost and Santa Claus may not be exactly the same, but both of them are eagerly awaited around the world. In their bags they bring not only gifts, but also joy, hope and love!