Russian New Year’s change

29 December, 2015

Despite today is Christmas celebration for most of us, in Russia is just another normal day. I want to draw your attention to a historic fact about the most important Russian celebration which is New Year, but later on I’ll also public how they celebrate it.

On December 20, 1699, Russian Tsar Peter the Great issued an order for the New Year to be celebrated on January 1 according to the Julian calendar – transferring Russia from the year 7208 to the year 1700.

Before that in Russia, this festival had been celebrated on September 1, based on the ancient chronology from the creation of the world. Peter the Great had a passionate interest to the European culture that he desired to lead the chronology and the countdown to the New Year from Birth of Christ just like them.

He convinced all the boyars who rejected and argued his decision, he explained there was no way God could have created the world in the middle of winter. What seems completely stunning is that the Tsar thought that Russia was not the entire world, and when it is winter here, summer prevails on the other side of the equator.

The decree, signed by Peter the Great on this day, stated that “Fir tree, pine and juniper branches and trees shall be used to decorate houses and gateways along main streets; salvos shall be fired from small canons and rifles, projectiles launched, and other lights lit as many as possible…” As a sign of joy, it was made obligatory to congratulate each other on the New Year and the start of the new century. In addition, the Tsar commanded that the New Year festivities were to be held for seven days, the celebrations ended on January 6th.

In February 1918, after the October Revolution, according to Lenin’s decree, the Julian calendar in Russia was substituted by Gregorian calendar and all dates of the year were moved forward by 13 days as the result of it. Today many still celebrate the “Old” New Year on January 14 as well as the New Year according to the Gregorian calendar.

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