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Дед Мороз из Лапландии

Father Frost: A good book is the best gift

Arctic.ru is offering this interview with Father Frost, prepared by Marina Smirnova, President of the Living Classics Foundation, for Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency. She traveled to Lapland Reserve for the interview and found out how he lived, what books he is reading and whether a book is still the best gift.

Father Frost, what were your favorite childhood books? And have you ever been a child?

Yes, of course, but this was very long ago. I can't even tell you how old I am because I don't remember. But this is not that important. Indeed, I have been reading since I was a child. I loved Jules Verne's novels most of all, including "A Captain at Fifteen" and "From the Earth to the Moon." And I knew him personally. These books continue to delight me even today. As a traveler, I am professionally interested in them.

You are the most famous popularizer of books for children. Quite likely, you continue to read a lot.  Which of your favorite books would you suggest to participants in the Living Classics project?

That's right, I read a lot. I would suggest that they go to a neighborhood library and find a collection of Russian fairy tales recorded by…

Afanasyev?

I guess so. I also like Eastern fairy tales, including "Arabian Nights" and "Sindbad the Sailor. They show how various nations lived in the past. I am also interested in modern fairy tales about the Moomins by Tove Jansson and those about Harry Potter. The authors of these novels have a wonderful imagination. Don't miss this thoroughly enjoyable experience and travel an adventure-filled road with their heroes.

The Sami live nearby. Do you read their literature? 

The Sami record and narrate some rather fascinating legends. I either read these stories or listen to them. These legends tell us about the animals the Sami interact with. Many of their stories deal with reindeer. It was these very animals who helped the Sami, who were called Laplanders in ancient Russia, to survive in the severe climate above the Arctic Circle.

Many Russian nations have characters resembling Father Frost. The Karels have Pakkaine, the Sami have Mun Kallsa, and Sook Ire lives in Tuva. Do you know them?

I know Mun Kallsa, and he is my neighbor. Finland's Joulupukki and I meet very often, we call on each other and share our experience as wizards. We are doing our best to acquaint all enthusiasts with magic and to make this magic unforgettable and long-lasting. Father Frosts are very good friends.

One common good desire brings us all closer together: We need to present all the gifts before the clock strikes twelve on the evening of December 31, to hide a surprise package under a Christmas tree branch and to reassure other people with kind words. Most importantly, we cannot forget anyone.

All the children of the world know that you live in Lapland. How can we meet you?

I live in a hut on the shore of a lake in Lapland Reserve. But it is impossible to visit me, even if you very much want to, because there are no roads and paths nearby. Only my faithful reindeer live next door, and we travel a lot.

I come to a wonderful estate called Father Frost's Estate at the reserve. I have my own mansion at the estate, and I meet with children and adults there. We sit down at the fireplace, I tell them fairy tales, and they recite verses.

When were people able to take part in these fireplace chats for the first time?

This happened in 1995. Lapland Reserve employees stumbled upon my unobtrusive hut, while making their rounds. This is a place where I chat at leisure with children and adults who write to me and dream of becoming acquainted with me.

And how far away does Joulupukki, Finland's Santa Claus, live?

He lives only 450 kilometers away. We call on each other regularly. Wizards need these conversations badly, like air for the lungs.

Финский Йоулупукки и лапландский Дед мороз
Финский Йоулупукки и лапландский Дед мороз.

What kind of communication do you prefer for correspondence with your fans and international colleagues: mail, Skype, iPhone or the social media? 

I don't use social media. I prefer in-person communication. As for my colleagues abroad, for example Joulupukki, my Finnish relative, I prefer to correspond with them via email, Skype or telephone. But then, everything depends on the subject and importance of the matter in hand. 

 Maybe you should create a VKontakte account for your fans?

Maybe I'll do this, but not now. I'm too busy at the moment finishing the Year of the Rooster and preparing for the coming holidays. But the idea sounds nice. I'll think about it. 

Who writes to you, and what do they write?

This is a long story. I receive letters from one and all. They share their intimate thoughts with me. Sometimes our correspondence lasts for years, and in this case it's fair to say that these people grew up on my letters. 

My reserve staff helps me answer these letters. They sort through my mail, treating every letter individually and with utmost care. In my replies, I pose riddles and propose special tasks for children. 

Sometimes children bring my letters to their schools or kindergartens. They show the letter and say who it was from, and then we receive letters from entire school forms or kindergarten groups. I prefer letters that are written by hand, and with pictures. Or simply a picture, even without any words.

Do you associate yourself with business, magic, industry or the public sector in terms of interests and activities? 

I am a magician, of course, a fairytale magician. And this explains everything. What do I need business for? I perform miracles selflessly. Look how many wishes people make on New Year's night. Some write them on a piece of paper, burn the paper and throw the ashes into a glass of sparkling wine. Others write a letter and send it to the North Pole. My work is to fulfil all these wishes, provided they were made correctly. 

Do people thank you for granting their wishes and making miracles?

Act with kindness but do not expect gratitude. Just do the right thing and forget about it. Leave it to them to remember it.

Does a person who gives presents to others have a wish of his own? What gift or miracle does Father Frost expect from people? 

I want people to realize that they are happy, here and now, every minute.

What do you appreciate in children more, good behavior and good marks, or talent and the ability to dream, or both? 

Spontaneity and the ability to dream. Children will eventually learn to apply their talents. Some will play the violin beautifully, and others will appreciate their marvelous performance. Children are all different, and this is wonderful. Let them make mistakes and sometimes even hurt themselves — they will be better soon enough. The main thing is to have a mind of one's own and to gather experience. And then they will succeed in whatever they choose to do in life.

And here is one more secret: don't worry about bad marks. The marks you receive at school assess your knowledge, but not yourself. By climbing the staircase of knowledge, children can look back at themselves as they were yesterday and see how they have grown. I see no sense in comparing children to each other.

You are a fairytale character. Does this mean that you only deal with children and have no interest in adults, even though some adults believe in you?

I sometimes receive letters from adult people whose problems began back before school. Years went by and they have long settled their problems, but we continue to correspond. They write to thank me for what I wrote to them earlier.

My most important message for adults can be expressed in a quote from one of my favorite movies: "There is only a moment between past and future, and this moment is life." Happiness is within us. We must stop and listen to realize the value of this gift. Life, in which miracles can happen any moment, is beautiful.

In other words, adults who continue to believe in Father Frost have not lost the ability to believe in miracles.

Yes, it is thanks to this belief that they continue to wait for a miracle, for something good and kind to happen. They believe that there will be a change for the better. The wishes of those who believe in this and who make wishes on New Year's Eve come true. 

I have a favorite television show, an intellectual game show What? Where? When? This is my recommendation for everyone: When making a wish, answer these questions. How else can I make your wish come true if I don't know what you want, where and when? 

So Father Frost is an intellectual, is he?

I am a magician, and I have access to all the knowledge in the world. I can answer any question. 

Is it true that books are the best New Year present for children and their parents, or is this an exaggeration?

I would say that a good book is the best present. I love giving books to near and dear ones, as well as to friends and children.