С Новым Годом и Рождеством Христовым (немного раньше, я знаю)! It’s that time again, when we present our seasonal classic post on a certain cultural icon…
Editor’s Note: С Новым Годом и Рождеством Христовым (немного раньше, я знаю)! It’s that time again, when we present our seasonal classic post about a certain cultural icon… Originally published in 2010, our post on Ded Moroz is one of NewEurasia’s most read posts. So, why break with tradition? ;-)
Even though it’s still two weeks before the Orthodox Christmas; even though our readership is overwhelmingly Islamic; and even though I’m a Baha’i, nevertheless, I wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, there’s a very serious issue I would like to address today, and that is why the Slavic world’s Ded Moroz is more badass than the Western world’s Santa Claus. I mean, besides the fact that his name sounds like “Dead Morose” to my American ears, bringing to mind 80s Hair Metal and all the infinite, eternal glory that comes with it. But really, this is a very scientific argument I’m going to make. Let’s begin.
Evidence 1: Ded Moroz has vastly superior style — Now this isn’t something I really need to argue, as it’s prima facie obvious even to the blind. Observe below the traditional Santa Claus in his dorky red and white, “I needed some quick cash, so I sold my soul to Coca Cola’s advertisement department” outfit.
And now here’s Ded Moroz, totally rocking it out.
There is simply no comparison. If the fashion styles of folkloric gift-giving immortals were a heavyweight boxing match, Ded Moroz would have pounded Santa Claus into the canvas with his sheer aesthetic awesomeness.
Evidence 2: Ded Moroz has a much cooler ride – Santa Claus as we know him today originally hails from the Germanic region of Europe. Yet, as with many immigrant nouveau riche in the United States, after he found immense financial success in the New World, he committed the same gross error: in a fit of ostentatious displaying of wealth, he splurged on tacky, useless imports. In this case, flying Scandinavian reindeer.
Reindeer? Really, Santa? These are like the Ford Pintos of gravity-defying mythological beasts, but without the durability. I suppose this is an improvement from your early days, when you arrived fresh off the boat from Ellis Island and had to ride around on a rather demonic-seeming goat that you obviously pilfered from a slaughterhouse in Manhattan’s Meat Packing District:
But word for the wise, Mr. Claus: Scandinavia doesn’t have a good reputation in the fantastical bestiary category for a good reason. Why couldn’t you have bought, say, a buraq, from the Muslims? This creature’s name literally means “lightning”. If that’s not wicked enough, wherever it goes, sheer electric awesomeness follows, as evidenced by this famous Persian miniature:
Now Ded Moroz, there’s a classy immortal. He’s got three steeds whose gallop is so fast and powerful, it’s downright metaphysical — no doubt, the best Turkmen purebreeds that petrol-rubles can buy. Not only that, but Ded Moroz is so badass, he doesn’t even need to steer: he can just stand in the carriage, one hand on his hip, the other gripping his war-banner, laughing diminishingly at all the other puny immortals who dare to stand in his way:
Heck, just to show off, he even races Soviet rockets in outer space (see: image above*). He simply knows no fear (or physics).
Evidence 3: Ded Moroz has sexier servants – And finally, we turn to the inevitable subject of helpers. It’s true that one could argue that because Santa Claus has an entire slave race of elves at his command and that therefore he’s fearsome. But consider this: perhaps he needs all those slaves because he’s too obese and lazy to do any hard work himself. Indeed, I dare say that Claus is just a tinpot Orwellian, getting his elves to work ceaselessly all day long, all year long, and not only that, but getting them to love their bondage, too. If he was more badass, I’d call this sinister; instead, it’s just corrupt and cowardly.
In this regard, even the Dutch have got one up on you, Mr. Claus. Their version of you, Sinterklaas, doesn’t bother with totalitarianism. He’s old school: he just hopped across the Mediterranean and fetched himself some good old-fashioned African slave labor. If that wasn’t enough, Sinterklaas is so remorseless, he renamed his slave “Zwarte Piet” — that’s right, “Black Peter”. That’s cold. One wonders what effect such pitiless racism has upon poor Piet…
As for Ded Moroz, well, again, this guy’s just way classier than Santa Claus. He doesn’t bother with brainwashed elvish drones or indentured servants crazed by captivity. Nope, he does what any insanely ancient man who is the symbol of the eternal rotation of seasons and has oodles of spiritual wealth and a massive amount of metaphysical power should do: he chills with beautiful young mortal women.
In your face, Santa Claus. Can you hear Dead Morose laughing at you? Can you, huh? Can you?
* By the way, the image above is of a postcard found by photobucket user Kosmosflot. Click on it to see the original. The rest of the photos I’ve taken from friends, Wikipedia, and Google, copyright infringement be damned (but I do link back to the originals anyway…)Share
Schwartz is NewEurasia's Editor in Chief. In 2004, he co-founded our predecessor site, Thinking East (http://www.thinking-east.net), with Ben Paarmann and Oliver Dams. He was also the editor of the book, "CyberChaikhana: Digital Conversations from Central Asia", and has published academically on Central Asia's mediascape. Check out his personal blog @ http://schwartztronica.wordpress.com.