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Deep snow, bundled up, rosey cheeked ice skaters, frosty air, and horse-drawn sleighs with tinkling bells inspire images of a winter wonderland. Yet, even in the icy cold of Siberia, warmth pervaded the villages, particularly as the end of the year approached the new.
For centuries the December 6 Feast of St. Nicholas was observed throughout Russia. The revolution suppressed Christian practices, and St. Nicholas and Christmas could no longer be celebrated. The Festival of Winter began encompassing many tra- ditions associated with Christmas into the New Year's holiday. Encapsulating the spirit of the season, the kindly figure Grandfather Frost emerged.
Legend has it that D'yed Moroz lived deep in the Russian woods and came to town in a sleigh. On New Year's Eve the white-bearded, fur trimmed, wizard looking figure roamed the streets. He went door to door delivering gifts to good children and over- looking those who behaved badly. Under a starry night the singing of the kolyadi among carolers, originally folk songs commemorating the renewal of the year, might be heard while children await their magical fate. To the fortunate, a set of stacking Matrioshka dolls, books, clothes, toys, or shoes might be found under the New Year's tree.
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