In my research of Santa Claus, I’ve come across several legends from around the world for the figure that represents the spirit of giving in other countries.
Santa Claus is the name we Americans have given to our legend of the Christmas gift-bringer. When referring to the legendary figures of Christmas from other countries we refer to them as Old World Santas when we should probably be calling them old world gift-bringers. Not all of these gift-bringers were men either as you will learn from the following story.In old Russia, one of the most commonly known givers of gifts was an old woman known as Baboushka (which means grandmother in Russian). Baboushka lived alone in a big house that required constant upkeep. She had lived alone for so long that her days and her thoughts were filled only with cleaning, cooking, mending and spinning. She had no family and rarely received visitors. Her large home near the road consumed her days.
One cold evening while scrubbing her floors, she heard a knock at the door. She looked out the window and saw three noblemen, finely dressed so she opened her door to them and invited them in from the cold.
"We are traveling to Bethlehem to find the Child who is born a King and bring him fine gifts," said one of the wise men to her. "Won't you please come with us to find him?"
The old woman explained that her floors were not yet clean and that she could not possibly leave her home. She invited them to rest by the fire and she would prepare them a meal. They said they must not delay their journey so they bid her farewell and went on their way.
Late that night by the light of the fire, she pondered upon the men who had visited her and, more importantly, of the Child of whom they spoke. She regretted deeply, for some reason, not having gone with them now. She gathered a few trinkets from among her meager possessions as gifts for the Child and set off into the cold night to find the noblemen. She walked and walked, inquiring after the traveling men and the Child who would be King but no one knew where to find them.
Legend has it that she continues to this day, traveling the lands in search of them. On Epiphany Eve, she leaves her trinkets in the homes of good children she visits in hopes that they too will search for the Child.
I decided to add to my collection of gift-bringers by sculpting Baboushka. I like the looks of the Russian nesting dolls and let their proportions and shape influence my sculpture. Since she began her search in the 17th century I decided that her clothing was more than likely dark and very simple as she was a woman of little wealth.