Topic: Imperial Russia
In Part III, we see some wonderful film footage of the Imperial family during the White Flower Day festival at Yalta, an event that the children of Nicholas II: the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and the Tsesarevich Alexei took part in.
The films show various aspects of life in Russia, in both rural and urban settings. We see the day to day lives of both rich and poor, but overall, the films offer us a brief glimpse into a lost world, one that was wiped out by the Bolsheviks and the Russian Revolution.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 October, 2013
President Vladimir Putin has assigned the First Separate Rifle Regiment the honorary name Semenovsky, the Kremlin press service reports. “With the aim of reviving glorious military historical traditions I hereby order that the First Separate Rifle Regiment be given the honorary name Semenovsky and from now on be called the First Separate Semenovsky Rifle Regiment,” the head of state said in a decree.
Putin also recreated the Preobrazhensky Regiment last month. This name was given to the 154th Separate Commandant Regiment.
President Putin first mentioned the need to return the historical names in his address to the federal assembly in December 2012. “The morale of our Armed Forces is held up by traditions, by a living connection to history, by the examples of bravery and selflessness of our heroes. I feel that we should revive the names of the most renowned regiments, military units and major formations of past eras within the Russian army – both from Soviet times and earlier eras, such as Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky regiments,” Putin said.
The Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky regiments were created by Peter I in the late 17th century and went on to serve Russia valiantly in numerous military in the years that followed.
© Russkiy Mir. 18 April, 2013
The Russian State Duma has suggested simplifying the granting of Russian citizenship to direct descendants of nationals of the Russian Empire who now live abroad.
The initiative was put forward by the lower house’s Committee for Nationalities.
Descendants of the Russian Empire – which collapsed after the February 1917 Revolution – are part of “the same nation and civilization,” committee head Gadzhimet Safaraliyev told Izvestia daily.
People of Russian heritage currently live all around the globe. Syria, for example, is the home of the Cherkessian diaspora. Their forebears moved to the region from territories that were part of the Russian Empire following the 19th-century Caucasian war. “What should we do with them? Leave them [in war-torn Syria]?” Safaraliyev said.
The biggest wave of emigration from Russia followed the dramatic events of the beginning of the 20th century: Revolutions, the fall of the Tsar, World War I, a civil war and the creation of the Soviet Union.
If the suggested amendments to the Law on Citizenship are passed, emigrants’ children and grandchildren will be able to get Russian passports and come to back to their historic homeland; archived documents would help them prove their Russian heritage.
Earlier, President Vladimir Putin urged Russian lawmakers “to develop a simplified procedure for granting Russian citizenship to our compatriots, the bearers of the Russian language and Russian culture, the direct descendants of those who were born in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, for those who want to take up permanent residence in our country and, therefore, to give up their current citizenship.”
In his annual address to the Federal Assembly, Putin said that Russia needs new blood – educated and hardworking people who want to move to the country and consider it their homeland.
Meanwhile, opponents of the proposal worry that a mass repatriation program could become a financial burden for Russia. Critics also argue that the bill may cause an increase of immigration from the former Soviet republics in the Caucasus and Central Asia, adding to the thousands of migrant workers from those regions that have already come to Russia.
According to Yevgeny Borbrov from the presidential Council for Human Rights, those who need help the most should be taken care of first.
“Descendants of the Russian Empire feel not bad in foreign countries, unlike descendants from the USSR who were left by the state holding an empty bag,” Borbrov told Izvestia.
Currently, those who wish to get Russian citizenship have to go through a long and complicated procedure.
© Russia Today. 30 January, 2013
Balls were very popular events in 19th-century Russia. The latest Joe Wright's Anna Karenina film with Keira Knightley is a sufficient proof of how beautiful these balls were. Only the very wealthy were allowed to attend these fetes, which required some serious preparation. Those who attended had to wear a fashionable dress or a perfect suit, know the etiquette and be a confident dancer. Follow Russia Today correspondent James Brown for an in-depth look at Russian ballroom culture, and visit the major ball of the year.
© Russia Today. 27 January, 2013
The population of St. Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire, consisted of social strata nested within themselves like Indian castes. It was only a few times each year that the tempos of their lives – be they high society, factory workers, servants, students, Germans or paupers – converged.
Because four-fifths of the city’s population were Orthodox believers, and because Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox holidays were very close together on the calendar, New Year’s and Christmas – the second most important Orthodox holiday after Easter – were celebrated by almost all of St. Petersburg's populace. The advent of Christmas marked the beginning of Christmastide – a season that lasted until Baptism (from Dec. 25 to Jab. 6, according to the old style).
Christmas was a family holiday, mostly for children. On Christmas Eve, every self-respecting newspaper carried Christmas stories and verses in which the hero is miraculously saved from danger on Christmas Day.
Toy shops displayed dolls, drawing-room and sports games, children’s pistols, doll houses, furniture, clothes, carriages, live models of steam and water mills, railways and automobiles. A novel feature in the 1913 season was an English wireless telegraph for children – the latest technology.
Petty officials and clerks snapped up practical jokes, in order to play pranks on their friends, cousins and mothers-in-law: for example, a “bottle of perfume” would turn out to contain plain water that spilled all over the recipient of the gift; matches that lit themselves; little imps jumping out of candy boxes…
Christmas dinner included an ostrich sitting on eggs: its body made from a coconut, its neck from a banana, its head fashioned out of a small apple with holes for eyes and its beak made from an almond… A guidebook wrote that “few inhabitants of the capital celebrate Christmas without a partridge or a traditional goose.”
Until Christmas Day, people practiced religious abstinence (although, in St. Petersburg, very few people followed the full rules of fasting).
Every self-respecting family also put up a Christmas tree. The custom was borrowed from the Germans and became popular in St. Petersburg in the 1830s, before spreading across Russia. The Christmas tree decorations were brought from Germany in huge quantities, ahead of Christmas.
The decorations piled at the foot of the tree were given to all the invited children, and the sweets, tin soldiers, fruits and nuts hanging on the tree were handed out as prizes to winners of trivia, anagrams and countless other games.
Families attended the festive mass and returned to a lavishly spread table. Numerous toys were recovered from under the Christmas tree.
From morning, children from poor neighbourhoods visited the flats of the well-off. They congratulated the owners, gave praise to Christ and accepted gifts – typically small change, a few kopecks per person. Among those who came with Christmas greetings were local constables, chimney sweeps, church-bell ringers, garbage collectors, and attendants from Turkish baths. They were treated with vodka and given some money.
Christmas in the Emperor’s family was very much the same, except for the number of Christmas trees (one per each family member) and the fact that gifts were presented not only by adults to children but also by children to their elders. And, of course, the value of their gifts was different (jewelery, arms, paintings, china).
The New Year
For a long time, the New Year was not a holiday but an ordinary workday. However, rural folk celebrated St. Basil’s Day on Jan. 1. That saint, the Bishop of Caesarea, was the patron of pigs – so, on New Year’s, people all over Russia ate sucking pig.
By the beginning of the 20th century a New Year’s ritual was established in the capital. Jan. 1 was regarded as a time for looking back on the previous year.
On the other hand, the night of New Year's was the time when unmarried young people in the city let their hair down. It was very pleasant to enter a restaurant or an inn, to escape St. Petersburg's dank weather. Fancy dress balls were staged at the Noble Assembly and the Suvorin Theatre.
The winter holidays lasted two weeks. During this time, Christmas tree parties were held in all the public spaces for the pupils attending the city’s schools. During the day, they lit up a huge electric fir-tree and children under the age of 10 received free gifts.
After the New Year came time for fortunetelling for young maids. Of course, the rituals were all aimed at attracting bridegrooms: they gave barley grains to roosters, melted wax, dropped slips of paper with the names of potential bridegrooms in a bowl of water and made use of mirrors.
Christmastide ended with religious celebrations for Epiphany Sunday. On Jan. 6, Orthodox believers went in their masses to “Jordan” (places on rivers, canals and lakes where they were baptized in the water). Processions carrying a cross started out from many churches and ended at the water’s edge: holes were cut in the ice for the ritual and chapels were built near these spots. Thus, Christmastide would come to a close.
Note: Russian New Year is on Jan. 1, but Russia has always dated Christmas as Jan. 7, in common with the rest of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
© Ogoniok Magazine. 1 January, 2013
Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich (1866-1933)
Established under the Romanov dynasty, the Russian air force marks its 100th anniversary this year. In 1912, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich Romanov declared: “The Russian air force should be stronger than that of our neighbors. This should be remembered by everyone to whom the military might of our Motherland is dear.” Aviation schools were opened in Sevastopol and Gatchina. A summer training course for volunteer officers from various branches of the armed forces was set up in these schools, and the trainees were instructed in theoretical disciplines at the St. Petersburg Polytechnical Institute.
By the beginning of World War I, the Russian army had 256 warplanes and 250 military pilots, from which 39 corps and fortress squadrons were formed. When military operations started, the aircraft were mainly engaged in carrying out airborne intelligence and correcting artillery fire. The pilots began to shoot down and ram enemy Albatross planes in the air on their own initiative. In December 1914, the world’s first squadron of heavy aircraft was set up by the Russian air force using Muromets planes.
In 1916, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich was appointed field inspector-general of the air force. Under his leadership, the separate corps and field aviation units were joined together in air combat groups. The tsar’s headquarters in Mogilev and St. Petersburg began to be protected from air strikes by planes and anti-aircraft artillery, and the rear support for the air force supplied it with everything it needed.
Sadly, the accomplishments of Russian aviation during the Great War were often forgotten in the subsequent chaos of the Russian Revolution and Civil War.
© Rossiskaya Gazeta. 15 August, 2012
These remarkable pictures show the lives of Russian peasants living in the 1800s.
Taken by Edinburgh-born artist William Carrick he was born on New Year's Eve in 1827 and months later was taken to Russia where he grew up.
He studied painting at the St Petersburg Academy of Arts and studied in Rome.
During one of his visits to Edinburgh, he took photography lessons and met John McGregor who returned with him to St Petersburg.
In 1859 he opened one of the first photographic studios and McGregor worked with him as an assistant.
Together the pair travelled rural Russia capturing the lives of peasants living and working in Russia.
Carrick did this to boost his income and keep his studio afloat. The pictures satisfied the curiosity of tourists and the public who found Russia's peasants fascinating.
The pictures, which are dated from the 1860s to the 1870s, include the lives of those working in the busy streets of St Petersburg, from street vendors to musicians and chimney sweeps.
Another set of pictures records the life and labour of Russian peasants in the Volga Region of Simbirsk.
They are seen at work in the fields and at rest and many happily posed for the camera. This would have been the first time many of them had seen one.
Carrick often spent months travelling with his assistant and was known for his compassionate nature.
McGregor died in 1872 and Carrick continued to take photographs until he died of pneumonia in 1878.
© National Gallery of Scotland. 6 August, 2012
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