Creepy Christmas Lenin [Ленин на ёлке]

Just in time for the holidays.

Needless to say, these creepy Christmas portraits were not Lenin’s idea. One can only guess how horrified he would have been if he had lived to see them. Christmas was abolished as an official holiday by the Bolsheviks starting 1918, roughly a year after the October Revolution. By 1935, however, Stalin’s government decided to reintroduce Santa to the children of the USSR. Poskrebyshev, a member of the Central Committee, enacted the reform.


Well, to expand a bit, it wasn’t Santa quite as we’d think of him. It was based on the old Russian version — Ded Moroz [дед Мороз], that is — different from Western Santas in several ways: 1. he isn’t jolly/fat; 2. rather, he’s tall and somewhat menacing. Some important modifications were made for (anti)ideological reasons: 1. ded Moroz no longer wore blue, as he had been turned red by communism; 2. now he wore a more festive hat instead of a boyar’s cap, as this would have harkened back to the feudal past.

Anyway, sometimes Santa was entirely superfluous. Lenin was all you needed. “I don’t know how to break it to you, little Vadim. God’s not real, and was never born, but I brought you some gifts anyway.”

Thanks to Anatolii Krasnopivtsev for the original post in Russian, which I just happened across today. Enjoy!

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8 thoughts on “Creepy Christmas Lenin [Ленин на ёлке]

  1. Hi! In fact in my Soviet childhood Ded Moroz was always dressed in blue and not in red. Actually lots of Russians believe is the main difference between Ded Moroz and Santa)
    I guess all of the pictures in your post come from different editions of “Lenin and Kids”, kid’s classic book in the tines of USSR. The funny thing that most of the stories in this book including this one were based on real events but were inspired by true events. I can’t remember exactly but I think it was based on Lenin’s visit to an orphanage. Of course they had no tree there) My great grand mother as a school teacher at that time and she was supposed to visit her pupils’ families to make sure none of them had a Christmas tree!
    If you interested I can probably find you a copy of lenin and Kids. There are also stories about Lenin training a dog and Lenin teaching kids to finish the meal to the last crumb.

  2. Those pictures had nothing to do with Christmas but with New Year celebrations during the USSR-period. The tree is called a New Year tree. During USSR-times New Year was the most important and most celebrated holiday of the year. Of course, one of its pupposes was to give the population an alternative for Christmas and so to diminish the Russian Orthodox church even more. Christmans as far as it survived in USSR times was and still is celebrated after new year in Russia and most other former USSR countries.

  3. Pingback: Creepy Christmas Lenin | feminist1965

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  5. As far as I am informed, these somewhat ridiculous pictures reflect a story told by Krupskaya. She was at an orphanage for recovery after a sever illness and Lenin visited her and made friends with the children (of course). He also stopped by at christmas, with presents which were, however, stolen in a robbery. Krupskaya recalls that there was indeed a tree, but without religious meaning. You can find the story in Krupskaya’s reminiscences.

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