Masquerade balls, champagne and stuffed pigs: how the New Year was celebrated in tsarist Russia
Masquerade balls, champagne and stuffed pigs: how the New Year was celebrated in tsarist Russia
New Year and Christmas celebrations in tsarist Russia

Now no one can imagine winter without New Year's holidays. But the tradition of celebrating on the night of December 31 to January 1 is relatively young - it is only 315 years old. Before that, in Russia, the New Year was celebrated on September 1, even earlier - on March 1. Peter I moved this holiday from autumn to winter. Since then, in tsarist Russia, it was established to arrange noisy festivities and chic New Year's balls. About the main traditions and attributes of the New Year in tsarist Russia - further in the review.

Peter I introduced the tradition of celebrating the New Year on January 1

Peter I, in order to keep up with the West, postponed the New Year to January 1 by a special decree. However, he retained the Julian calendar. Christmas fell on December 25, and the New Year was celebrated after it. And then the feast did not take place during the Christmas fast, as it is now.

Christmas bazaar

On the night of January 1, 1700, the first winter New Year was celebrated noisily, with a parade and fireworks on Red Square. From 1704 the celebrations were moved to St. Petersburg. They organized mass celebrations and masquerades, which took place on the square near the Peter and Paul Fortress with the participation of Peter himself. The New Year's feast lasted for three days.

A. Chernyshov. Christmas tree in the Anichkov Palace

Peter I made sure that everyone adhered to the new tradition and observed all the relevant rules and rituals: they decorated the house with spruce and pine branches, dressed them up - not with toys, as now, but with nuts, fruits, vegetables and eggs, which symbolized fertility, well-being and wealth.

Christmas tree. 1910 and 1912 Christmas Party, 1914

Elizabeth I continued this tradition. She arranged New Year's masquerades, to which she herself often appeared in a man's suit. In 1751, more than 15,000 people took part in the masquerade, the ball lasted from eight in the evening until seven in the morning, after which there was a feast.

New Year in Tsarist Russia

Under Catherine II, a tradition arose to prepare unusual dishes for the New Year's table. So, for example, as a surprise for the New Year's meal, the French chef prepared a pig stuffed with pheasant, partridge, lark and olives, while all the ingredients were alternately folded into each other, like a nesting doll. The roast was named "Empress" and became very popular among the Petersburg nobility. Under Catherine II, a tradition arose to give gifts for the New Year.

New Year in Tsarist Russia Pupils of the Russian-British shelter for refugee children and trustees of the shelter at the Christmas tree, 1916

Paul I and Alexander I stood up for abstinence in food, with them in the aristocratic environment it became fashionable to cook simple dishes on the New Year's table - pickles and mushrooms, radish salad, however, piglets also did not go out of fashion.

Champagne is a traditional New Year's drink New Year card

Champagne became a popular New Year's drink only at the beginning of the 19th century. - according to legend, after the victory over Napoleon, when Russian troops devastated the wine cellars "Madame Clicquot". The hostess did not interfere with this, foreseeing that "Russia will cover the losses." Indeed, after 3 years she received more orders from Russia than from France.

Christmas tree in the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, 1908

The first public New Year tree in St. Petersburg appeared under Nicholas I. If before that the house was usually decorated with branches, not only coniferous, but also birch and cherry, then in the middle of the 19th century. there was a tradition of decorating Christmas trees. At the same time, salmon, caviar and cheeses were in the lead in the festive menu. Under Alexander III and Nicholas II, turkeys and hazel grouses competed on the New Year's table with a pig and a duck with apples.

Christmas tree in the house of industrialist F. Bezobrazov, 1913 Christmas bazaar in the Catherine Garden, 1913

In 1918, by Lenin's decree, Russia switched to the Gregorian calendar, but the church did not accept this transition.Since then, Christmas has been celebrated on January 7 (December 25, old style), and New Year falls on the strictest fasting week. It was then that the tradition arose to celebrate the Old New Year according to the old Julian calendar. In 1919, the Bolsheviks canceled both Christmas and New Year - these were working days, and the tree was declared a "priestly custom".

Kardovsky D.N. Ball at the St. Petersburg Assembly of the Nobility in 1913

A the last costume ball of the empire was a masquerade on February 13, 1903, the participants of which came to the holiday in costumes of the pre-Petrine era.

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