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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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".
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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