In Russia, Santa Clause is known as Father Frost. The Father Frost character comes from a Russian fairytale titled "Morosko, Father Frost and the Snow Maiden. This fairytale predates the Santa Claus legend as well as the Grimm's fairytales.
The Morosko Legend, sometimes spelled Morozko or Mopo3ko
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived an old widower and his daughter. In due time, the man remarried to an older woman who had a daughter herself from a previous marriage. The wife's daughter was spoiled and mean, whereas the husband's daughter was very gentle and kind. The wife only loved her daughter, and made the other girl work very hard. The poor girl cleaned and cooked for the wife, and was often beaten as the wife's hatred for her grew. She found fault with everything the step-daughter did and praised her own daughter at every opportunity
One day the old woman made up her mind to get rid of the stepdaughter once and for all. So in the middle of a terrible winter, the wife decided that the girl should be taken deep into the woods and left there to die. The husband of course did not want to agree to this and he grieved and wept, but he himself was also afraid of the woman. So he reluctantly took his daughter into the forest where he left her. He turned back quickly so that he wouldn't have to see his girl freeze.
The girl sat helpless and alone under a tree in the snow, with her body shivering and her teeth chattering! Soon she heard the breaking and snapping of twigs and branches, and then a voice spoke. "Are you warm my child?" it said. The girl recognized the ominous voice as that of Morosko(Father Frost) and replied,"Welcome, my dear Morosko. Yes, I am quite warm," she said, even though she was cold to the bone.
Morosko repeated his question several times, each time coming closer to the girl. The girl always answered that she was warm, and then thanked him politely.
At first, Morosko had wanted to freeze the life out of her with his icy grip. But he admired the young girl's stoicism and showed mercy. He gave her a warm fur coat and downy quilts before he left.
In a short while, Morosko returned to check on the girl. "Are you warm, dear?" he asked.
"Welcome again, my dear Morosko. Yes, I am very warm," she said. And indeed she was warmer. So this time Morosko brought a large box for her to sit on.
A little later, Morosko returned once more to ask how she was doing. She was
doing quite well now, and this time Morosko gave her silver and gold jewelry to
wear, with enough extra jewels to fill the box on which she was sitting!
Meanwhile, back at her father's hut, the old woman told her husband to go back into the forest and fetch the body of his daughter. "Bring back what's left of her," she ordered. The old man did as he was told and sadly went back into the woods. Joy overwhelmed him when he saw his daughter was still alive, wrapped in a sable coat and adorned with silver and gold!
Upon his return home with his daughter and the box of jewels, his wife looked on
in amazement. The jealous wife then insisted that her own daughter be left in
the forest overnight, hoping that she too would return wealthy.
"Harness the horse, you old goat, and take my own daughter to that same spot in the forest and leave her there," she said with greed in her eye. The old man did as he was told.
Again the husband drove deep into the woods, this time leaving his stepdaughter there. Like the other girl at first, the old woman's daughter began to shake and shiver. As the night grew long she too heard the voice of Father Frost. "Are you warm my child?" he asked.
The girl was annoyed with his question and replied,"Are you blind? Can't you see
that my hands and feet are quite numb? Curse you, you miserable old man!"
Morosko was enraged with her reply and sent the coldest frost that there had
Dawn had hardly broken the next day when, back at the old man's hut, the old woman woke her husband and told him to bring back her daughter, adding, "Be careful with the box of jewels." The old man obeyed and went to get the girl.
When the husband drove into the woods the next day, he returned not with the
girl showered in riches, but with her cold frozen body instead.
A short while later, the gate to the yard creaked. The old woman went outside and saw her husband standing next to the sleigh. She rushed forward and pulled aside the sleigh's cover. To her horror, she saw the body of her daughter, frozen by an angry Morosko. She began to scream and berate her husband, but it was all in vain.
The man then took his daughter and left his evil wife.
Later, the old man's daughter married a neighbor, had children, and lived happily. Her father would visit his grandchildren every now and then, and remind them always to respect Old Man Winter.