Masquerades and New Year customs: Pre-New Year lectures at Moscow Kremlin Museum

Masquerades and New Year customs: Pre-New Year lectures at Moscow Kremlin Museum
An imperial dining table in the Palace of Facets. From the coronation album of Emperor Alexander II and Empress Maria Alexandrovna. 1856
Visitors will learn about grand banquets, trendy accessories for court nobility and what New Year fir-tree decorations looked like a century and a half ago.

The Lecture Hall of the Moscow Kremlin Museums will offer a special lecture series ahead of the upcoming New Year events. Visitors will learn about grand festivities, banquet customs and masses of other things too.

The series will open on 22 December, at 4 pm, with a lecture on grand court ceremonies in the Kremlin on the occasion of special days or important historical events in the 18th-early 20th centuries. Russian emperors used to celebrate Christmas, Easter, coronation anniversaries and family holidays in Moscow. What ceremonies took place in the Kremlin’s cathedrals, what kind of food was served at grand banquets during Empress Elizabeth Petrovna of Russia’s rule and under Emperor Nicholas I, where crowded fancy-dress balls for adults and matinee balls for children were held – these and other facts will be covered. Special emphasis will be placed on the May 1913 celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov imperial dynasty. The last such celebrations in the Russian Empire, they were held both in St Petersburg and the Moscow Kremlin.

On 26 December, at 7 pm, there will be a lecture on Christmas and New Year customs at the Russian imperial court. Visitors will be told about the calendar reform of Emperor Peter the Great, how the New Year was celebrated during the rule of Emperor Nicholas I and in the early 20th century and what greetings the Russian monarchs used to receive from foreign diplomats on 1 January, as well as about the old tradition of decorating a fir-tree at Christmas and what fir-tree decorations and Christmas presents were like a century and a half ago.

The Borovitskiye Gates of the Moscow Kremlin. 1852

Ending the pre-New Year lecture marathon will be a programme entitled Balls, Masquerades and Grand Dinners at the Imperial Court in the 18th-19th Centuries. On Saturday, 29 December, at 1 pm, visitors will be invited into the Armoury, where they will learn about the ballroom dances of Elizabeth’s era, why the rule of Nicholas I was the “golden age” for the Russian imperial court and ballroom culture. They will be told about grand court outfits, trendy accessories and the language of a fans and facial moles. After the lecture, people will get a chance to explore a splendid collection of coronation and ceremonial garments of the Russian emperors, unique fancy dresses and grand dinner services ordered by Empress Catherine II.          

Feasting in the Palace of Facets. Lithograph. 1856