New Year 2020 A La Russe

  • Fri 12 2019
  • by intermark

New Year in spring? Or maybe in autumn? Is it a kind of madness? Actually no, it’s just a part of Russian history. In this article we will touch the origins of the coming holiday and one of its main symbols – Christmas tree decorations.

“From the creation of the world” or from 5508 BC New Year was celebrated in March, and from the XV century – September 1. On this day, the Cathedral square of the Moscow Kremlin hosted a solemn ceremony “on the beginning of the new summer” and a Church service with the participation of the Tsar.

December 29 and 30, 1699 Peter I issued two nominal decrees on the introduction of a new system of chronology and the celebration of New Year. The documents prescribed celebrate New Year following the example of European Christian States on January 1. He ordered to decorate the main streets of Moscow, as well as the houses of the nobility with coniferous trees and branches. As an example he offered to use the fir-trees installed in Gostiny Dvor. The Tsar adopted this custom from Europeans who lived in The German Quarter. Citizens congratulated each other, burned fires in the streets, shooted from guns and muskets. In the Red Square, where the main celebration took place fireworks, cannon and gun salutes were organized. New Year holidays lasted seven days.


History of Christmas tree decorations in Russia

The first Christmas tree decoration in Russia was designed to demonstrate abundance, so Christmas trees were decorated with burning candles, apples and dough products. And in order that the tree became bright and sparkling, people added burning candles. The effect of the play of light made the green beauty even more radiant and solemn.

The first glass toys: balls, beads, spherical mirror objects in the form of searchlights and icicles appeared on Russian Christmas trees in the middle of the XIX century. They were heavier than modern ones because they were made of thick mirror glass. Initially, most of the glass ornaments were foreign-made, but very soon the production of Christmas tree decorations opened in Russia.

One of the very old Russian customs was to decorate the spruce with women’s jewelry – glass beads. The whole family would participate in creation of beads: glassblowers would make the spheres, women would die them and children would put them on strings. This craft got really widespread in the Klin district, where later,  in 1848, Prince Menshikov founded the glass factory.

After the revolution, the government liquidated private enterprises, but the glass-blowing industry remained. Artisans joined together in a cooperative, the craft became economically strong that they opened a factory school for glassmakers in the village Vozdvizhenskoe.

A creative variation in the search for new forms, excellent feeling of the material, the mastery of new methods of blasting allowed in addition to the traditional beads to master the production of balls, icicles and, for the first time, glass toys in shape of fairytale heroes.

It is worth mentioning that New Year decorations have always been extremely important within Russians. A lot of families collect them and carefully preserve from year to year unusual decorations of their ancestors. A variety of forms and materials makes each Christmas Tree unique.


Klin Glass Factory & Museum

One of the attractions of the Moscow region is the only Russian Museum of Christmas toys “Klinskoye podvorie” (eng: Klin Farmstead) and the famous factory of Christmas toys “Yolochka” (eng: Christmas tree). The Museum consists of 12 halls that will tell you about the origin and development of glass crafts in Klin.


You will have an opportunity to observe the process of “birth” of a glass toy there. The craftswoman, rotating the glass tube-drot with two hands, heats it in the flame of the gas burner until the glass becomes soft, and begins to blow through the hole in the tube. Then, a piece of glass transforms into a ball, bell or heart.

In the painting hall, you will see how artists draw on the toys, lay “snow” on the roofs of fairy houses; sprinkle them with “gold” and “silver”.

There is also a music hall in the Museum – the Nutcracker’s Hall. It is decorated with elegant Christmas tree from the fairy tale “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”. The world-famous composer Tchaikovsky lived in Klin for some time, and he wrote his most famous works there. And exactly in Klin he finished working on the music for the legendary ballet “the Nutcracker”.


Christmas toys from the 1940s-60s are presented in the next room. It was a difficult time for our country – the war and the postwar years. Christmas decorations of that time were made in the form of stars, planes and airships with symbols of the USSR. Isn’t it interesting?

And of course, the Museum presents modern glass toys as well. It is impossible to take your eyes off this brilliant beauty!

Address: 4 Staro-Yamskaya str., Klin, Moscow region.


How to get: A fast electric train “Lastochka” will get you to Klin from Moscow “Leningradsky” railway station in 50 minutes and the museum itself is not far from the station.

We assure you that this Museum is a great idea for a short Christmas trip. According to the numerous reviews the museum looks like a portal to winter fairy tale.

In a few days New Year’s Eve will come. The Russian President will traditionally address the residents of the country with congratulations. After the speech of the head of state, television and radio will broadcast the chiming clock of the Kremlin’s Spasskaya tower at midnight. During this last minute of 2019 people will make wishes to the coming year.

To fully enjoy New Year’s Eve fuss we highly recommend you to visit “Journey to Christmas” festival. On any of the venues of the festival you will definitely find something entertaining. Don’t forget about New Year presents  for the nearest and dearest. And of course plan your NY night and the rest of the holidays  in advance!

You can also join our Intermark Club not to miss our New Year Intermark articles and be in the loop.

Author: Ekaterina Znak

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