Origin of the name
The Romanian word moș means an elder male person. The word is rarely used in Romanian, in which vechi is used to mean "old" for an object, and bătrân for a person. The term ger means "frost" in Romanian. Moș Gerilă's name is a translation of the Russian Ded Moroz and was adopted by the Romanian communists, under influence of the Soviet model, as a new name for Moș Crăciun (Father Christmas).
In 1947, the newspaper Națiunea published an illustration of Moș Gerilă as a young, athletic, proletarian, bare-chested man.
History of the character
During the period from 1944 to 1948, Romanian Communist Party newspapers tried to denigrate the image of Christmas, emphasizing, for example, the peasant origins of many colinde.
In 1948, after the Communists took power in Romania, the celebration of Christmas was declared illegal. At the same time, the word Crăciun ceased to appear in any article in the newspaper Scînteia.
The word Crăciun was considered too religious, and therefore instead of Moș Crăciun, (the Romanian name for Santa Claus), a new character was introduced in the 1950s: Mos Gerilă literally Father Frost. Children were told that it was Mos Gerilă who brought gifts each December 30.
In the three years following the installation of the Communists in power, Christmas celebrations were transferred to the New Year, December 30, the day when King Michael of Romania abdicated in 1947, was renamed the Day of the Republic. December 25 and 26 became working days.
In the 1980s, the personality cult of "the beloved leader" would leave its imprint on the character of Moș Gerilă. Children's New Year gifts were associated less with Moș Gerilă and more with the state itself, personified by Nicolae Ceausescu.
Notes and references
- (Romanian) "Gerilă". dexonline.ro.
- (Romanian) "Moș". dexonline.ro.
- (Romanian) Povestea impostorului Moş Gerilă, Romania Libera, 29 December 2011
- (Romanian) Amintiri cu Moș Gerilă ("Memories with Moș Gerilă"), Evenimentul Zilei, 24 December 2005
- "The Scent of Christmas in Romania, December 2006 by Magdalena Chitic". European Youth Voice. Retrieved 2010-11-26.