Moving the celebration of the New year on 1 January, Peter I have created a completely secular holiday, bierkowice which failed. About how varied the attitude of the Orthodox to this day, says Alexander Kravetsky.
E. Tkachenko, “New year” (detail), 1959
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Out the Church calendar
New year – a holiday that is very difficult to fit into the Church calendar. And this is no accident. January New year in Russia was established as a purely secular holiday does not correlate with the Church calendar. As you know, December 20, 1699-St Peter I signed a decree “On celebration of the New year.” According to this decree from 1 January 1700 in the public proceedings was introduced the chronology of the Nativity and the beginning of the year was announced on 1 January. This was unusual for us. After all, if you count from the creation of the world, January 1, 1700 was still going 7208 year beginning 1 September.
As the Emperor was wont to impose upon his subjects how to properly entertain, the decree in some detail explained the rules of the Christmas fun. Citizens were ordered to decorate the gates of the houses of spruce and juniper branches, and the rich were supposed to imitate the decoration of the Moscow Gostiny Dvor, which was offered as a sample, and poor to hang at least one branch. From 1 to 7 January, the residents provided Christmas lighting, fireworks and illuminations. People of noble and military were obliged to salute of guns and musketry, to bonfires, to put on poles, burning tar barrels, etc.
January New year with all its bonfires, twigs and ornaments were part of the new cultural policy of Peter. It was the first completely secular holiday, not in any way correlate with the Church calendar. Thus, the Russian Church continued to be considered the beginning of the year to 1 September, in part keeping and the account of years from the creation of the world. (Here, perhaps, it is worth mentioning that by going to the January New year, Russia continued to live according to the Julian calendar. The civil new year was celebrated after Christmas and, respectively, after the end of the post.)
To distract people from the night of new year revelry
With the transition to the January New year associated two changes in the order of the Commission services. Was abolished committed by September 1, “the Rite of metoprolola” (that is, the wires of the year). While there is a new “moleben for the New year” which was accomplished on January 1 after the Liturgy. He was made Bishop of Ryazan Gabriel (Dunay). In the temples, which were not every day, this prayer was done every few years.
Only in the mid XIX century in large cities, the New year celebration began to gain popularity. It was a purely secular celebration, cheerful, and drunk, committed, as now, on the night of 1 January. The popularity of such obviously secular holiday has caused confusion for many, therefore, began to attempt to somehow “waterquality” this holiday. In 1894 in Saint-Petersburg and Armavir new year’s prayer was not committed in the morning of 1 January, and on the night of December 31 to January 1.
Thus the Church authorities had hoped to distract people from the night of new year revelry. Reasons why new year’s prayer began to make at midnight, clearly articulated in the Seraphim by Bulgakov, “Handbook of the cleric”:
“Where at midnight the New year is rampant, it is highly beneficial at that time to call to prayer greeters sinful in the Wake of the new year. Could not agree more with the opinion that committing molestowanie at midnight on New year’s pastoral practice is effective and reliable remedy to counteract the sinful meeting of the New year”.
The practice of making new year’s prayer at midnight, there were only some large cities and had the nature of the experiment. In the countryside the night’s prayer was not because the New year is here, no one celebrated.
At the local Council of 1917-18, this question arose again. Liturgical division of the Cathedral was entrusted to edit or review an existing rank of a Christmas prayer. In discussing this question by the priest Basil of Priluki was made a radical proposal to restore Peter the great “Rite of metoprolola”, which in ancient Church practice was accompanied by a procession.
To make this rank are not offered on 1 September, as it happened in Ancient Russia, and the civil new year. But to restore the ancient bulky chin seemed too difficult. In the end, everything was limited to the review of the existing service and adding new prayers for the New year.
However, due to the revolutionary events of the ability to print a corrected version of the Christmas prayer was gone. So left everything as is, limiting himself only as an introduction to the liturgical practice of one of the new prayers.
The main Soviet holiday
Post-revolutionary history of the holiday is determined by the fact that since 1918 Soviet Russia switched to Gregorian calendar. The new year is a civic holiday, so no reason to mark it in the old style, it was not. In this case, however, the celebration fell on January 1, while Christmas was celebrated on 7 January, i.e. New year fell on Christmas post. In the result, the believers chose to celebrate it in the old style, that is after Christmas.
There is a paradoxical situation, when the date of this secular, his idea of celebration was determined by the Church calendar. A New year is among those holidays which the authorities began to fight. For some time the New year celebration was a sign of disloyalty against the dominant ideology.
Only in the mid 30-ies, when the anti-bourgeois pathos of the first years of the revolution subsided, the Bolsheviks decided that the New year may well become a proletarian holiday. 28, 1934, the newspaper “Pravda” published an article called “Let’s organize for the New year children a good tree!”. In this article it was proposed to revive the celebration of the New year.
“Before the revolution, wrote “the Truth,” the bourgeoisie and the officials of the bourgeoisie, always arranged for their children the Christmas tree. The children of the workers with envy through the window looking at the brightly lit Christmas tree and playing around her children of the rich. Why do we have schools, orphanages, nurseries, children’s clubs, palaces of pioneers deprive of this great fun kids working people of the Soviet country?
…Members of the Komsomol, pierrepoint needs for the New year to organize a collective tree for the children. In schools, children’s homes, in palaces of pioneers, children’s clubs, children’s and movie theaters everywhere should be a children’s tree!”
So the New year tree and children’s party were rehabilitated. An atheist state now relied on the secular nature of this holiday. Progressive and optimistic New year was to counter the “reactionary” Christmas. The New year enjoyed a very great popularity. This was due to the fact that he was the only Soviet holiday that is not associated with ideology. On this day, the people had every right just to have fun.
The Church’s practice in those years on the civil new year especially did not react. By default, the believers tried to refrain from the excessive fun during advent. In 1984, in the third volume of the Breviary was re-printed “common Prayer for the New year.” As before the revolution, the time of of this prayer was not agreed and was to go on at midnight, and the first of January.
In the post the question of the celebration of the New year has again been actively discussed. However, no reasonable solutions are not obvious. Created by Peter the great inertia of the secular holiday, hardly able to overcome. You just have to accept that on this day, civil and ecclesiastical calendar require to behave differently. And everyone decides for themselves what tradition he will follow.