Friday, 30 December 2016
New Year’s in the Winter Palace
On December 31st, 1861 at 8 PM, the Imperial family attended a Mass that lasted for two hours when the children gathered together in Empress Marie’s room until 11 PM. Before midnight, Alexander II went to his sons’ bedrooms to say goodnight.
On January 1st, 1862 the sons of Alexander II in full dress uniform awaited their father in his reception room to proceed to Mass. They lunched en famille and then left the Winter Palace to visit relatives and friends until 3 PM. Dinner was with their parents and at 7 PM they went to the theatre.
In the 1840s, Nicholas I continued the tradition from the time of Catherine the Great of the annual ‘folk’ masquerade ball on January 1st. One year there were over 22,364 men attending; half were ‘commoners’.
Paintings of Nicholas I's Masquerade Balls in the Winter Palace (below)
On Sunday, December 31st, 1895 Nicholas II wrote “… at 7:30 we went to a prayer service in the Anichkov and had dinner with Mama.…"
On Monday, January 1st, 1895 he wrote “… at 11 AM the entrance procession began. For the first time, they divided the New Year’s reception into two segments … the Mass, receiving diplomats and the baise- main, not only from the ladies but also from the State Council, the Senate, the Court and the Suite! Our White dining room was used for a family breakfast for the first time. At 3 PM we went to pay several family visits…”