Fourteen Fathers Frost Celebrate Karelian Marriage

For several days, we turn into heroes of a New Year fairy tale in order to bring a happy holiday to children
Citizens of the city of Olonets make sure that when Father Frost (Russian version of Santa Claus) promises something, he keeps his word. Last year, when Father Frost saw a nice-looking Snegurochka (Snow Maiden) from the Russian city of Penza at the Second Olonets Games, he promised that he would marry her. It took a year, but Father Frost kept his promise. All male witnesses of the romantic event were surprised that the couple didn’t break up within the year that passed since the day they met.

Fourteen Fathers Frost from the Russian cities of Moscow, Penza, Priozersk (the Leningrad region), Severodvinsk, Olonets, Petrozavodsk, Ledmozer, and Gupkinsky (the Yamalo-Nenetsk autonomous district) came to the marriage of their comrade. However, only eleven of them ventured to measure their strength at the Third Olonets Games. The majority of them witnessed how the love between the Father Frost and Snegurochka developed. The oldest Father Frost, the Father Frost from Podporozhye, couldn’t come to the marriage because of poor health; however, he wired his blessings to the newly married couple.

On November 29, the Father Frost from the northern city of Severodvinsk, the man whose actual name is Vladimir, said good bye to his bachelor life. In accordance with the old Karelian wedding rite, the bridegroom sweated in a Russian bath house together with other Fathers Frost and then swam in a cold lake. In order not to melt, the Fathers Frost had to dive into the snow several times. Bride Natalya followed the same tradition to say good bye to her maiden life. She went to a bath house together with her girlfriends in a different village. The bath house rite ended with tea-drinking.

When so many Fathers Frost gather together in one place, the weather quite naturally must get colder. Indeed, the next day, November 30, the weather was awfully cold. But instead of sitting in warm apartments, over one hundred children gathered near a local hotel where the festivities were held; the brave children who were not afraid of the severe cold and went outdoors were greeted by the Fathers Frost.

It was planned that the bride and bridegroom were to appear in some showy way. However, the horse that was harnessed for the young married couple wouldn’t ride to the place where lots of people already waited for them. That is why the Father Frost and Snegurochka had to walk to the hotel where they were officially married.

To the traditional songs were sung by the Olonets chorus, and wonderful wedding rites were performed. When Vladimir paid the ransom for the bride, a silver coin, a red ribbon was taken away from Natalya’s head, and an official from the board for registration of marriages started the official marriage procedure. When the procedure was over, Father Frost and Snegurochka exchanged wedding rings and kissed to the sound of fire-works. Even the horse, which wouldn’t ride the couple before the official registration, was deeply touched and let them sit in his sled and took them to the park where the Games of the Fathers Frost took place.

The sled met several obstacles on the way; the Fathers Frost who accompanied the just married couple gave sweet presents to everyone on the way. Each of the Fathers Frost gathered a group of five children, who further helped them to cope with the trials of the games. Together with the children, the Fathers Frost had to run along a log, catch rabbits and elks, cross a swamp, play golf in an Olonets manner, etc.

The Fathers Frost and the children who came to the funny festivities were not afraid of the cold at all. The most handsome Father Frost, about two meters tall, weighing 100 kilogram, came to Olonets from Moscow. He was the only Father Frost with a natural beard. He was the first to win the sympathy of the children; he had heart-to-heart talks with them and slid down an ice-run. Later, the Moscow Father Frost confessed that he grew the beard for a year. “People say that a beard saves one from mosquito attacks, but it’s a lie! It was a great problem for me to grow the beard, but I did grow it to come to the Third Olonets Games of Fathers Frost with a beard of my own.”

Those who had enough strength to stay on the city square till the evening were treated to festive meals together with the just-married couple and all the Fathers Frost. Every citizen of Olonets had a chance to congratulate the newly married couple and to give them presents.

The next day, the Fathers Frost played football with the team of the government of Karelian republic, where the event was taking place. The Fathers Frost won many prizes at the Games.

The chief Father Frost of the whole region said: “It is not the victory that we appreciate in the Olonets Games. Once a year, we have an opportunity to get together, enjoy ourselves, and make lots of children happy. For several days, we turn into heroes of a New Year fairy tale in order to bring a happy holiday to children, which they certainly remember for the whole life.”

Natalya Vitiva Petrozavodsk Karelia

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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