Celebrations Russian Style

The “Potseluiny Obryad” by Konstantin Makovsky shows girls about to be kissed by guests at a feast during the traditional exchange of vodka and kisses.

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This summer the Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve is hosting the colorful “Prazdniki Po-Russky” (celebrations Russian-style) exhibition. The organizers consider holidays to be a key to understanding any nation’s mentality. This exhibition doesn’t display any images of drunken people fighting, despite such stereotypes surrounding local holidays. Apparently Russian holidays have more to them than that, and the show introduces its viewer to a wide variety, from posh aristocratic to patriotic Soviet, from loud public to cozy family ones, religious holidays and demonstrations, funeral feasts and bride-shows (an ancient tradition of parents meeting the girl and deciding whether she is fit to marry their son before he himself met her).

The show features 125 paintings, graphics and other pieces of art from the 18th to 20th centuries. For example, porcelain action figures of fist fighters and dancing peasants made at the emperor’s factory, which were very popular in the middle of 19th century.

The paintings are conveniently big and allow exploring every dish and every expression of a typical for them plump and shy woman.

Don’t miss the menu of the meals of Alexander II in 1883. It is beautifully decorated by the famous fairytale painter Viktor Vasnetsov.

For example, on May 20 the tsar was served a crayfish soup, a wild goat, pies, cucumbers and ice cream. A week after he was treated to a mushroom soup-purée, a sterlet with cucumbers, roast turkey and snipes, quails with beans, a pineapple pie and, of course, ice cream, which is oddly not among the desserts.

Not all of the images are merry. Valery Yakobi’s “Ledyanoi Dom” (ice house) depicts the moment of cruel tyranny of Anna Ioannovna. She was known for her love of clowns and jesters, had several of them in her palace and even punished out-of-favor aristocrats by making them perform for her. One of her subjects, Prince Golitsyn, got married to an Italian abroad and became Catholic without the tsarina’s consent. When he returned to Russia, infuriated Anna canceled the marriage and turned him into a clown. He was to bring her kvas and sit in a basket near her room at all times. Once during the winter of 1740, with temperatures of minus 35 degrees Celsius, Anna got bored. To amuse herself she organized a mock marriage of old Golitsyn and her midget. The feast was arranged with tremendous fanfare, including bears, “crying cupids” and acrobats. The “newly weds” were left with the guards to spend a night in an ice palace.

In contrast to this dark theme, the funny “Potseluiny Obryad” by Konstantin Makovsky shows girls about to be kissed by guests at a feast during the traditional exchange of vodka and kisses.

The only thing this exhibition lacks is food, as the meals depicted will certainly make you hungry. Be ready to go somewhere for bliny after the show.

Open until Sep. 18, daily from 11 am except Mondays, Tsaritsyno Museum- Reserve, 1 Dolskaya Ul., m. Orekhovo. Tickets cost 150 roubles.

Source & Copyright: The Moscow News
19 August, 2011