Soviet Propaganda (Almost Forgotten)

Suddenly, I remembered this episode; I didn’t think about it for years until yesterday, when it suddenly popped up in my mind.

Back when I was a child, not only did we not know anything about Christmas, we didn’t even know how Santa looks like. Grandfather Frost, who was in charge of presents, looked very different from Santa, except for the beard. And even his beard looked different from Santa’s 🙂

So, we didn’t know how Santa looks like, and that’s what once happened.

I must have been in grade school, probably the 5th or the sixth grade. It was a winter break, and I was at the Yubileyniy Palace of Sports watching the New Year show on ice.

In all these shows, the scenario is more or less the same: Grandfather Frost is in danger, or got lost, or lost his granddaughter Snowgirl. And some good guys help him (most often, animals) and bad guys trying to prevent him from finding Snowgirl or take him hostage, or something else.

This time around, a villain was Santa Claus! He didn’t look like Sant at all, but we didn’t know. He was short and thin and wriggling, hunching most of the time. He wore a purple robe, which was too big for him, and a dark purple hat that looked very much like a night hat. He wore sunglasses (because spies wear sunglasses!). He had packs of chewing gum in his pockets, which he was using to bribe the good guys. There was no chewing gum in the Soviet Union, and it was labeled as bourgeois plague, and yet kids loved it, as one can love forbidden fruit.

This Santa Claus was trying to turn people away from Grandfather Frost and accept him as a main figure for the New Year celebration. In the end, he was defeated and sent away.
It was a long (two acts) and a beautiful ice skating show, and it ran twice a day through the whole winter break. The Yubileyniy arena was huge, so I won’t be surprised if most of the city’s grade school students saw this show. I didn’t feel anything wrong about it. I thought it was funny. And it was so along the lines of what we were told back then that I forgot about it entirely.
Now I think: it’s no surprise that so many people in Russia think about the US as their enemy. That concept was imprinted in people’s minds so early that they can’t even remember that.

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

2 thoughts on “Soviet Propaganda (Almost Forgotten)

  1. FYI, “Снегурачка” is usually translated as “Snow Maiden” in English. “Snowgirl” almost makes her sound like a superhero (though I can see how you arrived at that translation). And thank you for sharing this bit of Soviet culture. I didn’t know anything like that existed, but it doesn’t surprise me at all.

    For those not familiar with this particular facet of post-Soviet winter holiday culture, here is some background

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snegurochka

    Also, as an aside, when we were all much younger, Vlad proposed a solution to a Russian New Year mythological conundrum (If Snegurochka was Grandpa Frost’s granddaughter, who the heck were her parents?), by suggesting that her dad was Santa Claus. I have been trying to write a children’s story about that for my nieces, but I keep making it too complicated for little kids.

    Liked by 1 person

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