December 14, 2010

Grandfather Winter, II

Well, when you sport a pretty thick white beard around the holidays, almost every year someone suggests "You should be Santa Claus". Well, why not! My friend Ariunbat, who put me on Mongolian TV in 2008 as Grandfather Winter, asked me to be Santa Claus at the Center Tower, probably the most expensive of Ulaanbaatar's high end shopping centers.

Shopping Center Santa

Unlike my brief time as a TV star, this time I'm playing a shopping mall Santa. But unlike the States, I don't have a bevy of beautiful assistants and many people think I'm just part of the Christmas decorations. Actually many people don't think I'm real until I move. That might give you and indication of how many white bearded men they see in Mongolia.

From my TV debut as Grandfather Winter (2008)

Because of Mongolia's Communist era, Grandfather Winter probably became popular like Russia's Grandfather Frost. In the Russian tradition, Grandfather Winter brings children presents at New Year Celebrations and parties.

Mongolia's Grandfather Winter only slightly resembles Santa Claus with his white beard and black boots. His coat is usually white with sheepskin cuffs and collar. And Grandfather Winter's hat is very Mongolian.

And because it probably came from the Russian tradition, Grandfather Winter doesn't say "Ho, Ho, Ho" and doesn't drive a sled pulled by reindeer (I've never seen a sled in Mongolia but there are reindeer).

from Wikipedia

Ho ho ho (2010)

But I'm sure very much like my counterparts all over America, kids are the same. The littlest one's cry and cry for their parents when put in my lap. The small children just look dazed. and finally a few understand its all fun. Two little girls, after their mother took our photo, came back later and gave me some candy. Being the swanky place it is, most of the customers are the young up-and-comers of Mongolia. The guys usually drop me a nod and the women smile or giggle. And even a few ask if they can sit with me and take a picture.

I'll let ya' know how it goes as we get closer to New Years.