Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Christmas in the Winter Palace

After the restoration of the Winter Palace in 1840, Nicholas I and Empress Alexandra continued their family Christmas tradition.

Christmas trees for each member of the family and personal staff were placed around the Concert Hall. A table stood next to the trees displaying their gifts.

On Christmas Eve after the Church service, Alexandra would inspect all the tables again while the family waited impatiently outside the closed doors.

A bell would ring, the doors opened and the family noisily rushed into the hall that was lit with thousands of candles. Alexandra led each child and adult to their assigned table and gave out the gifts.

After the family celebration, they would then enter the next hall to distribute gifts to their entourage. A long table was decorated with various porcelain items; vases, lamps, tea sets, etc. A lottery was held where Nicholas would shout the card winner and Alexandra would hand out the gift.

A.  Chernyshev’s 1846 painting (below) of Christmas in the Winter Palace

After 1855, Alexander II would continue the family Christmas tradition which was held in Empress Marie’s Gold Drawing Room.


  1. Love this. And love the illustration - we see the looming, massive chandeliers while the rest of the room's décor is lost in the mist! ; )

  2. It is a magical Christmas Eve! Can you imagine the scene; thousands of lit candles and the family bursting with excitement through the doors. Nicholas I was just as pushy as the children to be first into the room! The documents reveal the presents and it is different from what we imagine - Nicholas wanted from his children things they made with their hands, drawings, poems.

  3. Very sweet, really, that last bit.

  4. Magical & Beautiful! probably even more so when the tradition was moved to the Golden Drawing Room, if I could time travel I'd love to be in that room on Christmas Eve (dreams). If the tradition was held on Christmas Eve, where the children & others received their presents, what did the family do on Christmas Day? Did Nicholas II & Alexandra continue with the tradition at the Winter Palace?
    It's very lovely to know that Nicholas wanted hand made things from his children instead of something shop brought.
    Must be getting cold in Canada now, so a white Christmas for you?, while I'm in for a hot one!
    Ghostie x.

  5. My book reveals Christmas during the reign of Alexander II. It is both traditional yet heartbreaking with conflicts progressing yearly. Alexander III reign was in Gatchina and Nicholas II in Alexander Palace. I will write on the subsequent years what had happened but the chapter is primarily on Christmas tradition in the Winter Palace and I will also reveal the days from Christmas to New Years. Remember that Russian Orthodox Christmas is different date. I know both from my family.

    It's lovely weather today and by Monday it will be 9C here in Canada (well my part of Canada!). Do you want some of my snow and you send me your hot sunshine!

    Ghostie, see my comment that I am writing on the GD's Classroom!