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.