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East meets West for a holiday hug

Dancing is not a common sight on the Finnish-Russian border, but song, dance and hugs were the order of the day Monday when a Finnish Santa Claus and his Russian counterpart "Grandfather Frost" met to exchange seasonal greetings.

Pakkasukko ja joulupukki Nuijamaalla
Grandfather Frost and Santa Claus together on Monday. Image: Petri Kivimäki Yle

A children's dance group from Vyborg, Russia and a school choir and dance group from Lappeenranta, Finland were on hand when the two, neighouring bearded symbols of the season met near the Nuijamaa border crossing point.

A troupe of school children from Lappeenranta performed Christmas dances for Grandfather Frost. Image: Petri Kivimäki Yle

Following a dance performance by a group of Russian children, Grandfather Frost ambled towards Santa Claus, arms outstretched and embraced him in a hug right on the border between their two home countries.

Pakkasukko ja joulupukki
Grandfather Frost came in from close by Vyborg. Image: Petri Kivimäki Yle

The Russian Orthodox Christmas is not celebrated until early January, after the festivities marking the start of a new year. Despite that difference, the timely message Grandfather Frost carried echoes in both East and West.

"Presents are not the most important thing. What's important is to take care of each other."

Pakkasukko ja joulupukki
The two jolly old souls exchanged hugs right on the border. Image: Petri Kivimäki Yle

Santa Claus was in agreement with his eastern colleague.

"We can only hope for peace, joy and the good acts each of us should remember to extend to those close to us."

tiedotusvälineitä Nuijamaalla
The border meeting was closely followed by members of the Russian media. Image: Petri Kivimäki Yle

The visit by Grandfather Frost continued during the day in Lappeenranta, accompanied by his helper Zimushka-Zima and his granddaughter Sneguroschka the Snow Maiden.

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