ROMANOV FAMILY: HOW MANDARIN ORANGES BECAME RUSSIA’S NEW YEAR TREAT
New Year celebrations are arguably the most major holidays in modern Russia. One of the traditional treats on a Russian New Year’s table are mandarin oranges. This fruit was not native to Russia – it was introduced only a few years prior to the Russian revolution – by a member of the Romanov family Grand Duke Peter of Oldenburg, a great grandson of Tsar Nicholas I and first husband of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, sister of Tsar Nicholas II.
The Romanov family celebrated New Year relatively intimately and quietly, without any major fanfare. January 1st was a regular work day for Nicholas II, but a festive table was set up for the visitors. Those who came in to see the Tsar with reports on New Year’s Day were offered zakuski (cold meat snacks or pickled vegetables) but did not normally linger at the table for too long nor overindulged in vodka.
The imperial couple preferred to dine with a circle of close friends, but it was always a first class meal. At court there were three dining classes: the first was for the members of the imperial family, the second – for the imperial suite and dignitaries invited to court, and the third was for the servants. Read more ROMANOV FAMILY: NEW YEAR MEALS
Along with millions of their Russian Orthodox subjects, this is how the Romanov family celebrated this holiday each year.
CELEBRATING ORTHODOX CHRISTMAS
by George Hawkins
In the Orthodox Faith, Christmas is one of our most important celebrations. The Feast of the Nativity is one of the twelve Great Feasts of the Church. Over and above the twelve Great Feasts is the Feast of Feasts – Pascha (Easter). In the Orthodox Church, Christmas is sometimes known as the Winter Pascha, showing its importance to the Christian Faith.
From the memoir of Margaretta Eager (Romanov family nanny):
“We generally spent Christmas at Tsarskoe Selo. It is less elaborately observed than Easter in general, but at the Alexander Palace it was a great festival. There were no fewer than eight Christmas trees in various parts of the palace. The Empress decorated them all herself, and personally chose the presents for each member of her household, and for each officer, to the number of about five hundred. A tree was arrayed for the Cossacks in the riding-school. The children and I had a tree for ourselves. It was fixed into a musical-box which played the German Christmas hymn, and turned round and round. It was indeed a glittering object. All the presents were laid out on white covered tables, and the tree stood for several days an object of intense interest and admiration to the children. They were very sad when it was dismantled just before we went to St. Petersburg, but they were consoled by being allowed to help, and to divide the ornaments among the members of their own household.”