For a long time in Russia, January was the eleventh month of the year, since the New Year came on March 1. According to the Bible, God said to Moses and Aaron: "This month is the beginning of months for you." The New Year was celebrated until 1492, when the beginning of the church and civil year began to be celebrated on September 1. Moreover, the chronology was not from
Nativity of Christ, but from the Creation of the world. The difference between these two events was 5508 years. And this continued until 7208. On September 1, our ancestors celebrated the New Year, not suspecting that big changes will soon come in their lives.
It is interesting that the New Year was celebrated in a completely different way than today. There could be no Christmas trees and colorful masquerades. In Moscow, on Ivanovskaya Square, the patriarch, with a large crowd of people, performed a solemn divine service on the prosperity of the coming year. On this day, it was customary to do charity work. Wealthy people considered it compulsory to send gifts to hospitals, less rich people gave alms to the poor.
On this day, the "Indian summer" began - the main agricultural work by the beginning of September ended, they began to wet the flax, ruffle the hemp. Most of these jobs were done by women.
The young reformer Peter the Great, seeking to bring the calendar in line with the European, issued a decree - to celebrate the New Year on January 1, as in most European countries. The document, which was signed on December 20, detailed the rules for meeting the upcoming holiday: decorate houses with spruce and pine branches, do not remove them until January 7. Decorate Christmas trees with fruits, vegetables and nuts, symbolizing prosperity and well-being. On a festive night, fire cannons and rifles, and arrange a solemn fireworks display on Red Square.
At the same time, the Julian calendar was preserved in the country, therefore, first they celebrated Christmas, the fast ended, and a few days later the New Year began. This is how, unexpectedly, 7208 passed into the 1700th. The festivities in Moscow lasted three days, since 1704, similar events began to be held in St. Petersburg.
Naturally, the celebrations concerned, first of all, wealthy townspeople, commoners did not understand the meaning of the new holiday, it was as strange for them as Peter's decree on the need to shave beards, distorting the "image of God" in a person. Instead of a festive mood, Muscovites feared that cannon firing and fireworks would lead to fires, which were a terrible disaster at that time, they burned out entire streets. In his novel "Peter the First" A. Tolstoy wrote:
"Posad people, quiet and God-fearing, lived these days in anguish, they were afraid to stick their heads out of the yard. It was not clear why there was such fury?"
Boyars and service people were also not delighted with the New Year's hype, but they could not disobey the king. On January 6, a religious procession took place, during which the boyars were ordered to be dressed in foreign caftans. Peter himself was present in a new military uniform. Old Russia was gradually becoming a thing of the past.
This is how the tsar transferred the foreign tradition to the Russian land. Until the beginning of the twentieth century, Peter's customs were observed, albeit mainly in wealthy houses. But, everything changed with the outbreak of the First World War. We suddenly remembered where the tradition of Christmas trees came from - from Germany, our main enemy. Emperor Nicholas II issued a decree - to ban trees. In 1916, the Synod also imposed a ban on the "German venture".
There is a misconception that the trees were banned by the Bolsheviks who came to power. This is not true. It was with them that New Year's traditions began to revive. And in the thirties, there was even a tradition of arranging Christmas trees for children in the House of Unions.