The earliest information that has come down to us says that the year of the Eastern Slavs began on March 1. The traditions of this holiday in the subsequent times were combined with the traditions of Maslenitsa: pancakes, fist fights, funny sledding, burning stuffed Winters, etc. Her power over the world was ending, a new agricultural year was beginning, summer was gradually waking up in nature. The year in the Slavic languages was just designated - summer, and the New Year holiday as a New Year's Eve. As for the date of March 1, it is possible that the Slavs adopted it from the Romans. Although it may be otherwise that the Slavic and Roman calendars date back to some common ancient Aryan sources. But in Rome, of course, they did not bake pancakes, did not build snow fortresses. And the countdown years were from the legendary date of the founding of Rome. In the 1st c. BC. Guy Julius Caesar introduced a new calendar, named for him Julian.
In the IV. Christianity triumphed in the Roman Empire, the First Ecumenical Council was convened in Nicaea in 325. Among the questions that he considered, was the system of chronology. The cathedral approved the Julian calendar. However, the starting date, the foundation of Rome, was considered unsatisfactory. What is one city for the universe? Moreover, the emperor Constantine the Great did not like rotten Rome, moved the capital to Constantinople. We decided to start counting from the biblical creation of the world, and the beginning of the year announced 1 September.
In 533, a very qualified scholar, a "Scythian" (ie, Slavic) monk Dionysius the Small, calculated the church calendar, compiled the Paschalia tables. On the basis of his writings, Pope John I introduced another tradition. To count not from the Creation of the world, but from the birth of Christ. The church in that epoch was still united, it was not divided into Catholic and Orthodox. But unity was not observed in everything, differences arose. The new order, to count from Christmas, on the instructions of the Pope was distributed in Western countries. But the Patriarchate of Constantinople did not consider it necessary to change the established tradition, in the east they continued to count from the Creation of the World.
Russia, having adopted Orthodoxy from Byzantium, also began to live according to this calendar. But the date of the beginning of the year has retained a more ancient - 1 March. Mentions of the New Year's meeting with 1 September appear only in the XIV century. And not everywhere. Russia itself remained fragmented into many principalities. Everywhere different laws, partly church practice. Disagreement and calendars. Only in the middle of the 15th century, when Vasily II and Ivan III undertook to assemble Russia into a single power, unify the order, our country finally switched to the Byzantine tradition.
New Year's Day 1 September was considered a family holiday. Children and grandchildren gathered at the eldest in the family. We sat at the table before the first roosters. At midnight, the ringing of the bells, and in the cities, the messenger cannons, announced the arrival of a new “summer from the creation of the world.” The feasts were dignified, without drinking. On this night, it was supposed to talk, discuss the backlog of cases, and then from the tables went to church to matins. In Moscow, in honor of the New Year, all residents and visitors gathered at Red Square. The king came out with the whole court, the patriarch blessed the people, wished happiness in the new year. In addition, 1 September was considered a new home day, moving to new huts. And girls had a custom to bury flies and cockroaches in “coffins” of carrot or beet. It was believed that after such a funeral they should disappear from the house.
Roman Pope Gregory XIII was a great lover of astrology, but science also lied with pseudoscience in those times. On the instructions of the pope in 1582, was developed a new calendar, it was called the Gregorian. From an astronomical point of view, it was more accurate, but ... there was a shift in the dates of church holidays. Indeed, at the “zero point” when the Lord was born, and in the 6th century, when Dionysius the Small made calculations, the old calendar, Julian, was active. The Orthodox Church did not recognize the Roman innovations, and the Russian state was inextricably linked with it. Met new years of 1 September and counted them from the creation of the world - the difference with the calendar from the birth of Christ was 5508 years. But the Russians didn’t really suffer, that they didn’t match the dates in Western countries either. After all, Muslims, Chinese, Mongols, Hindus, and many other nations lived according to their own calendars, this was considered normal.
Changes struck under Peter I. Returning from a tour of Europe, he decided to bring together Russian customs with foreign ones. The new century, XVIII, was ordered to meet already on the western system of chronology. There was a decree that after 31 December 7208 from the Creation of the world 1 will come January 1700 from the birth of Christ. And then in Russia there were Christmas trees. However, not only Christmas trees, any coniferous plants were allowed. The decree read: “For notable and passing streets at the gates and houses, to make some decorations from trees and pine, spruce and juniper trees ... To repair small cannons and shotguns, to launch rockets, how many people happen and light the lights.”
But even Peter I, with his passion for reform, did not encroach on the church's annual cycle and did not translate Russia into the Gregorian calendar. She continued to live in Julian - as we say, "in the old style." Our dates and abroad differed on 13 days. By the way, and in order to celebrate the new connected with the old, Christmas trees and fireworks - with the usual customs of the New Year. In the morning of January 1, the guards and army regiments, nobility, citizens converged on Red Square in Moscow, they were blessed by church hierarchs, prayers were served. As for the very night of celebration, noisy and snappy, then with Peter it remained an extra reason to put it out. But the king died, and it turned out that such traditions did not take root among the people.
New Year has become a "second-rate" holiday. However, this is not surprising. After all, he now found himself in the gap between the other two dates, from the point of view of the Russian people - much more important and bright. At Christmas, a long post was completed, and the tables were full of delicious dishes. With the end of the post it was possible to sing, frolic, organized processions with the Bethlehem star, fun games. The ancients preserved, even from pre-Christian times, the custom of caroling, guessing about the betrothed. People gave each other gifts - in memory of the gifts that the Magi brought to the Lord. We especially tried to please the children, because on this day Christ, the baby, was just being honored. From the Ukrainian and Belarusian scholars spread the tradition of Christmas performances.
Two weeks later, there was the baptism of the Lord, again a national holiday. In the evening, young people frolicked, drove round dances, and made snow. At night, people flocked to the rivers, lakes. In each city, village, monastery, served the great rite of blessing of water. Masses of people, men and women, hurried to plunge into the Jordan hole, immersed the babies. Filled with Epiphany water barrels, buckets, transported whole wagons to yards, houses, villages. She sprinkled her huts, cattle, household.
The New Year modestly squeezed in the middle between Christmas and Epiphany celebrations. By the way, if you really understand, his date itself is conditional. After all, the countdown of years is from the birth of Christ, so Christmas is a real New Year holiday. The Lord was born - and the first year of our era began. 2013 has passed years since His Birthday - and 2014 has gone. But counting from December 25 is not very convenient, and the nearest beginning of the month, January 1, was taken as the line between the years.
By the way, in Western countries, the New Year remained a minor date compared to Christmas. A Christmas tree, flashed in Peter's decree, was in Germany and in the Scandinavian countries not a New Year, but Christmas attribute. We can recall at least the Nutcracker fairy tale by Hoffman, the plot of which formed the basis of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet. In Russia in the XVIII - XIX centuries. Christmas trees were dressed up in their homes by the Germans. It was beautiful, festive. They began to adopt the nobles, merchants. And then the custom spread "from the top down" - Christmas trees appeared in the families of intellectuals, clerks, artisans. Special Christmas toys at first was not. The top was crowned with a Star of Bethlehem, and candles were lit on the branches; they lit up on Christmas night, hung with candy, apples, colored nuts or wrapped in shiny paper. Children's matinees were arranged near the Christmas tree. When the kids dance and sing, the gifts were allowed to be torn off, after which the tree could be thrown away. Already later, toys began to be added to delicacies. In 1903, the poetess Raisa Kudasheva, who worked as a governess at the time, wrote the poem “Christmas Tree”:
Bend branches shaggy
Down to the heads of the children;
Shine rich beads
Overflow of lights;
Ball behind the ball hides,
A star behind the star,
Light threads roll,
Like golden rain ...
Play, have fun,
Kids gathered here
And to you, spruce beauty,
They sing their own song.
Everything rings, grows,
Voices of children's choir,
And, flashing, swinging
Christmas trees lush dress.
* * *
In the forest a fir-tree was born, in the forest it grew,
Winter and summer, slender, green was!
Blizzard she sang songs: "Sleep, tree ... bye-bye!"
The frost covered the snow with snow: look, do not freeze!
Trunk, gray hare jumped under the tree,
Sometimes the wolf itself, an angry wolf, ran trotting.
* * *
Cheerful and friendly
Sing, little children!
Bow the tree soon
The nuts glitter in them
Who is not happy here,
* * *
Chu! Snow in the forest often squeaks under a runner,
The horse of the captain hurries, runs.
Lucky horse drovenki, and in the woods peasant.
He cut down our Christmas tree under the very root ...
And here you are, smart, on a holiday came to us,
And many, many children brought joy.
Cheerful and friendly
Sing, little children!
Bow the tree soon
What do you like ...
Aw, thank you
As you can see, initially the poem was something like a Christmas game scenario. The kids are called to sing “fun and friendly,” and thus they deserve gifts and delicacies hanging on the Christmas tree. The poem appeared in the magazine “Baby”, and music lover Leonid Beckman took several passages and picked up a melody for them - apparently, the song of the Swedish poetess and composer Amy Köhler “Thousands of Christmas candles were lit.”
But the socialist revolution broke out, and the Bolsheviks decided to eliminate the discrepancy with Western Europe. By decree of the Council of People's Commissars, the country switched to the Gregorian calendar. In one fell swoop, she jumped from February 1 to 1918 in February 14. Although the consequences were not clear. If earlier the New Year was celebrated a week after Christ, now it has moved to Advent. And on the last, strict week of fasting.
For overthrowers, this seemed very opportune. After all, it was necessary to abolish the very faith in the Lord. Emelyan Yaroslavsky (Gubelman), the chairman of the “Society of Militant Atheists”, proposed to unconditionally prohibit any traditions one way or another connected with “religious remnants”. Among the "remnants" he called and Christmas trees. But Lenin did not support him. He judged that in order to eradicate traditions, it would be more effective not to abolish, but to alter them.
Instead of Orthodox holidays, others were introduced, the list was thought out by Sverdlov. He personally noted on the calendar: January 22 is the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, March 12 is the monarchy’s fall day, March 18 is the Paris Commune Day, May 1 is Worldwide Solidarity of Workers Day, November November 7. Then added 8 March - International Women's Day, February 23 - the day of the Red Army. New rituals of holidays were invented, with processions, public mass actions.
Instead of christening, the “Octabrins” were propagandized, instead of the funeral “civil memorial services”, even Christian names were tried to oust from circulation, many “revolutionary” names appeared: Marseillaise, Spartak, Marat, Guillotine, Vilen, etc. And we paid a lot of attention to the New Year. He was supposed to replace the Nativity of Christ. This holiday was timed to all that can be from the Christmas customs: Christmas tree, gifts, children's matinees. Subsequently, the antisyachny story by Alexander Kononov, “A Christmas tree in Sokolniki,” became a textbook, like Lenin himself traveling with gifts to an orphanage. Well, the Bethlehem eight-pointed star on the coniferous tip was replaced by the Bolsheviks with its five-pointed one.
Still, the extreme wing of the atheists did not let up. In the second anti-religious campaign, in 1929, they got to the trees. Now they were dressed up for the New Year, but they often stood in homes until Christmas. This was perceived as resistance to atheistic politics, and the custom was decided to completely get rid of. Posters were hung around: "Only he who is a friend of priests, is ready to celebrate the Christmas tree." Patrols of Komsomol and volunteers walked through the streets, peeping through the windows, checking who else was following the “clerical customs”?
Yes, where there! Destroying the tradition turned out to be extremely difficult. Festive impressions of too many people were associated with Christmas trees. Grandmothers and mothers retold their memories to the children: how they dressed up forest beauties, what scents and moods they filled the house, what a charming atmosphere they created around themselves. Grandfathers and fathers secretly brought home, if not a Christmas tree, then at least a branch. We also tried to pamper the children with presents, somewhere on the New Year, and somewhere in the old, on Christmas ...
In 1933, the party ideologues again recognized the validity of the Leninist methodology. Do not prohibit, but take control and guide. The new year was officially declared a public holiday, and they began to explain about the trees - that the custom is not religious, but popular, there is nothing bad in it. Soviet industry received the corresponding task of the party and government. In record time, mass production of Christmas-tree toys was arranged. They glittered no worse than pre-revolutionary, but were already “correct”, ideologically seasoned, without angels and other manifestations of “religious dope”.
Collective celebrations around the Christmas tree were now not only resolved, but also turned into mandatory cultural events. Fortunately, there were already numerous clubs and houses of culture in cities and villages. It was imperative to develop scenarios for these activities. Previously, at the Christmas den were arranged for the presentation of the Gospel scenes. It is not difficult to understand that this topic was deliberately excluded. Scenarios were born new, and to replace the Magi, who come to worship the baby Jesus, there appeared figures of Santa Claus and Snow Maiden.
In pre-revolutionary Russia, such characters did not exist. In fairy tales there is Morozko, in the poem of Nekrasov - Moroz-voevoda. However, both of them had nothing to do with either the New Year or Christmas. Grandfather simply copied from western Santa Claus. But Santa Claus is none other than St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. In the Catholic folk tradition, it is he who delivers gifts to children. Clearly, the image of St. Nicholas did not fit the Bolsheviks, and it was altered to abstract Santa Claus. But the communist government proclaimed the equality of men and women, and most of the cultural workers belonged to the "fair sex". Therefore, they attached the Snow Maiden borrowed from Ostrovsky’s play to the red-nosed grandfather, although this heroine did not by any means adhere to any traditional holidays.
Purposefully formed repertoire for New Year events. It was then that the song on poems by Kudasheva "The Christmas tree was born ..." was useful. It was written at Christmas, but it had one property that was very valuable for new ideologues. Christmas itself is never mentioned, it says only about the Christmas tree! And in 1933, just in time for the establishment of the Soviet New Year festivities, the second song was written by M. Karasev on the verses by Z. Alexandrova, “A little Christmas tree is cold in winter ...”. Here it is directly stated: “Have fun, have a happy New Year!” The cultural organs actively took them into circulation, and two songs were sounded by a duet. Although initially they belonged to very different holidays. But they reinforced each other and unequivocally staked out Christmas plagiarism.
Other customs were purposefully redrawn — or artificially formed. For example, a ritual arose to listen to the radio, to vigorously rejoice at the twelfth stroke of the main Kremlin clock. Instead of the Christmas messages of bishops or metropolitans, the New Year greetings of the authorities sounded. At different levels. First, by divisions, institutions, enterprises, districts - with a summary, distribution of bonuses. And from the repeaters appeals and wishes of the top leadership of the country sounded.
And then, in 1930-x, (as life in the USSR became more comfortable), the ritual of compulsory New Year's champagne began to be introduced. But also to those citizens to whom champagne was still not available, it was not supposed to be bored. They were given to clink white little ones, reds ... It became impossible to imagine the new year without a congratulatory shout and a glass chime. Multi-voiced chime - the whole country! Where are the chimes of Christmas bells! Where is the "religious dope"! The table dope without any religion turned out to be oh so nice! The smell of the Christmas tree, the glitter of the decorations, the ringing of the clock, Santa Claus with the Snow Maiden, and the flocking of glasses, glasses, and glasses spreading over Russia. She has become such, a new tradition ...
Well, the inventors have achieved their. This tradition has proven to be extremely stable. The power of the Bolsheviks had long since faded into the past, but the customs they introduced really obscured the celebration of the Nativity of Christ. Since the beginning of December, people have been rushing about shopping, living an intense hunt for Christmas gifts, purchases of Christmas treats. Christmas trees are being dressed up, the children freeze in anticipation of kindergarten, school, commercial matinees and performances - still New Year's. But already a week before the holiday date violent celebrations boil. Corporate parties and small parties at work places are seething, they spill over cafes, doorways, streets, and finally - homes. Poured feasts, noisy and vulgar television programs, greetings of the first persons of the state, firecrackers.
These days and nights are especially vividly marked by the police, ambulance, and firefighters. Gather drunk to death, frozen, celebrated before the syndromes and alcohol poisoning, maimed and killed in drunken fights, in car accidents, broken during drunk falls. Trying to extinguish the Christmas lights, with a bang devouring someone's Christmas trees, apartments, houses, cottages. For some reason, human and material losses after each New Year's meeting are not published, although they are probably comparable to military ones ...
Well, the townsfolk lose their heads in this fun congratulatory whirlwind. Only later, through heavy waste, through hangover dregs, they remember - and after all today is Christmas! Or yesterday was, gone. By the way, on modern Russian postcards, congratulatory banners and posters, they usually write: “Happy New Year and Merry Christmas!” But whose Christmas is not mentioned at all. However, it makes sense to emphasize another feature. When shifting from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian New Year (January 1) fell on December 19 in the old style. On this day, the Orthodox Church honors the holy martyr Boniface. He decided to pray for deliverance from the illness of drunkenness. Probably not by chance the Lord pointed to such a coincidence.