Once upon a time, it may have been enough to dress up in a big red suit and don a false beard to keep children happy on the night before Christmas, or New Year's Eve as is the case in Russia. But in a world that is becoming increasingly demanding, this is clearly no longer true.
Alexander Frolov, art director of the Moscow Ded Moroz School, said the first exam for candidates had been held five years ago. "Then we had the idea to create something more fundamental," he said.
So this year 30 people will receive training in psychology, dramatic arts, educational hints for children's New Year parties, theatrical makeup, script writing, directing celebrations, and in the history of Russia's Ded Moroz, a somewhat sterner character than his Western counterpart.
Out of the 30 people who have enrolled, 10 have signed up for a course in being Ded Moroz, 12 want to be trained as his assistants, and eight will be attending a course for Snow Maidens, the chirpy young granddaughter of Ded Moroz who accompanies him on his generous journeys.
The school employs more than 30 professional psychologists, teachers, musicians, and TV presenters, which just goes to show how serious the matter is.
The newly trained Ded Morozes and Snow Maidens will take their final exams on December 24 in front of a children's jury. The graduates will also have to pass a theory test at Moscow Institute of Open Education, and then they will receive their advanced training certificates.
"We hope that our graduates will make it easier for people to keep in touch with the fairy world," Frolov said without a hint of ho-ho-ho.