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Business news, 26.07.2001 14:49

Santa Claus to open its office in Saint-Petersburg.

C: christmas02.gif According to JSC 'Ded Moroz' (Father Frost), this project will be very profitable for the city, because it can attract more tourists to the city.

Not only office will be opened. New guide book 'From Petersburg to Great Ustug' will be published. Great Ustug is the motherland of Russian Santa Claus Ded Moroz (Father Frost).

Ded Moroz is a mythical character rooted in Russian fairy tales and promoted by the former Communist regime as a Slavic and secular bringer of gifts and New Year's cheer to Soviet kids.

But today, the spare, enrobed, and heavily bearded figure of Moroz is being resurrected by politicians and business leaders seeking a champion for Russian cultural values and, of course, commercial interests.

"There has been a deep process of Americanization over the past 10 years, and it has left people feeling a bit alienated," says Alla Aliyeva, a professor of Russian literature at the official Institute of World Literature in Moscow. "Since the Iron Curtain came down, our own Ded Moroz has been eclipsed somewhat by the universal image of Santa Claus."

Orthodox Russia celebrates Christmas on January 7, but the Soviet-era holiday of New Year's remains the key day for feasting and gift-giving. Western practices have made an impact, however. Russian schools will close for winter vacation on December 25 - several days earlier than in past years.

For many adults, Ded Moroz is not merely the stuff of their Soviet-era childhood memories, he is one of them.

(c) 2000