I hate to be a Scrooge but I need to share this appalling story or I will explode.
I do everything I can to avoid news about Ukraine because I know that whatever I hear will upset me. But sometimes news from my country of origin manage to seep into my life. Here is the most recent bit of purely Ukrainian idiocy.
My mother writes a column for a Ukrainian newspaper in Canada. As part of her column, she prepared a series of riddles, games, and tales for parents of small children to share with their kids during the seasonal celebrations. The editor of the newspaper then contacted my mother and asked her to remove all references to Grandpa Frost from the column.
Grandpa Frost and his granddaughter Snegurochka are the Slavic equivalent of Santa Claus. They arrive for New Year’s and Christmas (in Russia and Ukraine, Christmas happens after New Year’s), bring gifts for kids, and entertain them around the Christmas tree. In Ukraine, the tradition of welcoming Grandpa Frost is a respected pagan tradition that existed before the forced Christianization of the Slavic people.
As you can imagine, my mother was puzzled by her editor’s suggestion that she remove Grandpa Frost from her column.
“Why on Earth can’t I write about Grandpa Frost?” she asked. “This is a tradition we have been upholding for generations. It is only right that children of the Ukrainian Diaspora should be aware of it.”
“Grandpa Frost is a Stalinist invention,” the editor, who closely follows news from Ukraine, told her. “We deplore Stalin’s oppression of Ukraine and have now adopted St. Nicholas instead of this oppressive Grandpa Frost. Ukraine has now denounced Grandpa Frost and gotten rid of him for good.”
It is always fascinating to see the hopelessly ignorant wave the banner of nationalism. In reality, choosing St. Nicholas over Grandpa Frost only means substituting a long-standing pagan tradition with a more historically recent Christian one which, besides, was never used in Ukraine. Stalin has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any of this. Unless he lived in the IV century, he couldn’t have possibly invented Grandpa Frost.
Of course, my mother is not the kind of person who would pay any attention to this kind of stupidity. This is why she told the editor to stop being foolish and quit messing with her column. In a newspaper whose goal is to preserve Ukrainian traditions among the members of the Ukrainian Diaspora, it makes no sense to introduce weird things that are based on nothing but ignorance of history.
Merry Christmas, folks! Don’t let any officious ignoramus mess with your traditions and celebrations.