MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –
When the city began to be decorated for the New Year and Christmas, Moscow historians told.
This winter, lights are burning over Moscow streets starry skyfrom garlands. Glowing balls hang on Nikolskaya Street, golden snowflakes in Kamergersky Lane and Kuznetsky Most. In December, New Year’s arches and tunnels, huge Christmas balls and fairy-tale figures appeared in squares, parks and pedestrian zones. Lanterns along the streets and highways were decorated with light installations.
“On the eve of the New Year holidays, Moscow was decorated with four thousand volumetric decorative structures, including light tunnels and arches, beloved by the townspeople, garland sheds and glowing balls. In the New Year’s illumination, only modern energy-saving equipment based on LEDs is used: such lamps consume ten times less electricity and are designed to work in any weather conditions, ”said Deputy Moscow Mayor in the Moscow Government Pyotr Biryukov.
The capital is famous for its winter decoration and festive atmosphere. But how long has there been a tradition to decorate the city in winter? And how did it look before? Historians told mos.ru about this Museum of Moscow…
Street festivities and fairs
The main winter holiday in Russia for many years was Christmas – the New Year began to be celebrated in 1700 by the decree of Peter I. The tsar himself took care of the decorations, mentioning them in the same decree, says Denis Romodin, an employee of the Department of Educational Programs of the Museum of Moscow.
“Along large and passable noble streets, noble people and near houses of deliberate spiritual and secular ranks, in front of the gates, make some decorations from trees and branches of pine, spruce and juniper against the samples, which are made in Gostin Dvor and at the lower pharmacy, or whoever It is more convenient and decent, depending on the place and the gate, to make it possible, but people who are meager cannot even put a tree or a branch on the gate, or over their horomino, and so that now the future January is ripe by the 1st day of this year, but to stand that decoration of the January 7th day of that same year, 1700 “, – stated in the decree of Peter I.
It cannot be said that the townspeople immediately began to carry out the imperial command. Until the revolution, the New Year remained a secondary secular holiday, and it was celebrated much less widely. But everyone was really preparing for Christmas: they decorated Christmas trees in houses and courtyards, decorated churches and squares.
From December 25 to January 1, Muscovites took part in festive festivities: skating, sleigh rides and merry-go-rounds, going to fairs and launching fireworks. Even the Moscow fire and the Patriotic War of 1812 did not interfere with the fun. The Main Archive of Moscow keeps Chief of Police report Governor-General Alexander Tormasov dated November 29, 1816. The document says that the peasant Semyon Konorin is allowed to build and maintain on the Moskva River rolling mountains, merry-go-rounds, comedy huts and stalls from the onset of Christmas days to Lent.
The streets were decorated in places where ice mountains were built and Christmas fairs were held – in Sokolniki, on Vorobyovy Hills, in Maryina Roshcha, on Red Square, near Gostiny Dvor, garlands of colored flags were hung there, says Irina, head of the Moscow History department of the Museum of Moscow Karpachev. In the 19th century, a traditional Christmas tree appeared on Cathedral Square, and fireworks were launched on Vorobyovy Gory since the end of the century on January 31, added Denis Romodin.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, one could feel the approach of holidays simply from the fact that the streets were cleared of snow. Moscow then consisted entirely of private estates, the snow was removed only near the house, and there was a lot of it – it was not surprising to the townspeople with snowdrifts the size of a barn. As a rule, Muscovites moved around the city either by sleigh or skiing. According to Irina Karpacheva, it was common practice to ride in a sleigh along Tverskaya Street or Red Square.
By the end of the 19th century, electricity was gradually coming to Moscow. Although at first even the electrified streets near the Kremlin were not well lit and the residents of the city had to carry lanterns with them all the time. The garlands we were used to on holidays were still far away. Bowls with a combustible substance – oil or kerosene – became decorations, thanks to which the streets became a little lighter.
At the turn of the century, large Christmas trees began to be decorated in the city, mostly with cotton wool toys. It happened that these decorations became the causes of fires – they flashed from fireworks, sparklers and other “fiery fun” of Muscovites. Christmas trees in houses were also often lit up – they were decorated with cardboard crafts, homemade toys and lighted candles, says Irina Karpacheva.
After the revolution, they had to forget about Christmas, and the New Year acquired its truly festive format only towards the end of the 1930s. At the same time, the trees and decorations returned. True, there were still a few of them on the streets – mostly they were all the same colored flags.
The renewed holiday quickly caught on; it was celebrated in Moscow even in 1941. “Of course, it was impossible to decorate anything, the streets were dark and quiet – there were practically no lights on. Moscow remained in a state of siege. But even then people skated on ponds and rivers. Christmas trees were brought to Muscovites – they were placed at home and in bomb shelters in the subway. They made the decorations themselves: knitted, sewn, glued from cardboard and paper, ”said Irina Karpacheva.
A truly New Year took to the streets in the post-war period. From the middle of the 20th century, Mosgoroformlenie and the Gazosvet factory began to design the city, says Denis Romodin. By their order, the Department of Forestry and Park Management began to harvest four 25-meter trees every year, which were erected on the 50th Anniversary of October Square, Sverdlov Square, Pushkinskaya and Sovetskaya Squares. Smaller trees were installed in large regional areas. Then garlands of incandescent lamps painted in different colors appeared on them.
The streets are filled with New Year’s posters – there are many such exhibits in the collection of the Museum of Moscow. Famous artists often worked on them – it was very prestigious for them to receive an order with a huge circulation, says Irina Karpacheva. In the late 1950s, before the holidays, the center of Moscow is decorated – for example, large snowflakes appear on the lanterns.
Large shops are beginning to decorate windows and interiors – theatrical artists and graphic artists came up with original solutions for them. In Moscow, even special “glossy” places appear, where special attention was paid to the design. They are shop windows along the government highway – Kutuzovsky and Kalininsky avenues. There, giant Snow Maidens and Santa Clauses stood next to giant Christmas trees, recalls Irina Karpacheva. The artists tried very hard, and serious sums were released for their work. “But in such places it is wrong to judge the whole city. It’s like a staged photograph, ”says the historian.
Muscovites themselves also tried to maintain the festive theme: they painted the windows of houses, and in the space between the frames they laid out Christmas tree decorations. “In my childhood, we often looked into the windows of the first floors. We were very interested in how they are decorated, ”says Irina Karpacheva.
The New Year’s decoration reflected the most notable events of those years. By the early 1960s, the theme of space exploration appeared in it. The hero of the festive performances, in addition to Santa Claus and the Snow Maiden, was then the astronaut boy, symbolizing the beginning of the new year. And after the Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow in 1957, they began to sell Christmas tree decorations that are associated with other countries and continents, for example, small glass Africans, the historian recalls.
A million lights
Since the 1970s, garlands with colored bulbs and New Year’s light structures made of incandescent lamps and gas tubes began to be mounted on the facades of buildings and lamp posts. As a rule, they were made in the form of Christmas trees, snowmen and snowflakes. All these constructions were light-dynamic. At the same time, banners appeared with New Year’s greetings and images of Santa Claus and the Snow Maiden, says Denis Romodin.
This design remained unchanged until the 1990s. Later, artificial trees and dyurolight garlands were installed on the streets. According to the historian, the advent of LEDs in the 2010s revolutionized urban lighting and lighting in the capital.
Today Moscow is in the top five most illuminated cities the world. Almost a million lamps are lit in the evenings. For New Year’s decoration, about four thousand decorative elements are used. And that’s not counting the Christmas trees, of which more than a thousand have been installed throughout Moscow. Trees ranging in height from eight to 25 meters adorn popular walking trails, parks and squares. For New Year’s illumination, energy-saving equipment is used: LED garlands are safe for people, they are not afraid of snowfalls, freezing rains, temperature drops – all that makes Moscow winter different now.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.