Have you ever heard of Ded Moroz? Well, me neither - but in their apparent eagerness to usher in the era of the 2014 Winter Olympics, the residents of Sochi, Russia jumped the gun a wee bit and held a very unofficial referendum regarding potential mascots. Under consideration were the easily recognizable snowflake, polar bear, & dolphin. Rounding out the list is a figure that will be unfamiliar to many: Ded Moroz. Ded Moroz is a mythological figure with a fascinating history. Similar in appearance and function to Santa Claus, Ded swept onto the scene as giver of gifts in the late 19th century by beating back fierce competition to be Russia's non-church affiliated annual giver of gifts (yes, I know this description really destroys the magic of it all). It was a competition in which he trounced poor Saint Nick and many many others. Like Saint Nick, there is a strong association with Winter and Ded Moroz is often considered a 'Father Winter' figure. None of this is to say that Ded did not walk a long road to fame prior to the 19th century. Indeed, his roots extend far back to pagan traditions. Flashing forward to March 2008 - Ded Moroz for Olympic mascot? Ded's climb to the the top seems to have stalled. Sochi residents squelched Ded's ambitions this March when they voted for the doplhin on skis as the Olympic mascot. I am a little disappointed - Ded could have been one of the most interesting and educational mascots in recent memory. Then again, the early renderings of the Ded mascot lead me to think that a sizable chunk of the world would be left wondering what Santa is doing at the Olympics. It is not entirely over for Ded however - the official decision on the 2014 mascot will not be decided until 2011 at the earliest. Vote Ded! For More Information: Rogue Soul under creative commons attribution 2.0 license.