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In Russia the first fir-tree in honour of the New year appeared in houses of the capital on the eve of 1700. At that time the capital was Moscow. According to the decree of Peter the Great, there were fireworks on the main squares of Moscow, and in houses - fir-tree branches. Daughter of Peter - empress Elizaveta liked to arrange joyful celebrations with magnificently decorated fir-trees in the palace - as well as other great empress - Ekaterina II.

Petersburg families gradually began to adopt this European custom. And, at last, in 1852 in St.Petersburg the first public celebration with a fir-tree was arranged. And by the end of XIX century this beautiful custom had become habitual not only in Russian cities, but also in many rural houses.

But after the revolution of 1917 the tradition was stopped. Russians remember the story about Lenin being on a Kremlin celebration for children. It was the last celebration with a fir-tree. After that authorities decided that a decorated fir-tree was the attribute of religious holiday Christmas and, hence, they should stop it as well as with religion. Therefore there were not official celebrations till 1935. But then this tradition began again. And since 1947 the 1st of January became a day off.

Our far ancestors considered trees to be alive beings and able to do good and evil. They though that in evergreen branches of fir-trees kind spirits spend winter, so people brought presents to them, decorated fluffy branches with gifts. Since then there was a custom to decorate a fragrant fir-tree. Germans began this tradition. Green tree at any time of the year - fir-tree personified immortality, eternal youth, boldness, fidelity, longevity, advantage. The fir-tree and its fir cones were symbols of fire of life, restoration of health.

Now according to customs and traditions of Russian people a decorated fir-tree is arranged even in those lands where it doesn't grow. The kind grandfather and his granddaughter they easily and quickly entered the New Year's ritual together with the fir-tree and began to be called Grandfather the Frost (Ded Moroz) and Snow Maiden (Snegurochka). And it is understandable: their prototypes lived in Russian fairy tales from time immemorial.

Ancient people believed the plentiful celebratory table provided well-being for all forthcoming year and was considered as the pledge of family's prosperity. New year should be celebrated in a new dress, footwear - then all the year you'll have new clothes. Usually before New year one should pay all debts, forgive all insults, those who were at odds were obliged to reconcile.

On the eve of the New year holiday Russians threw out all broken utensils from their houses, washed windows and mirrors. Carnival masks for the New year celebration appeared in Russia in the beginning of XVII century when the magnificent masquerade on the occasion of the peace conclusion with Swedes was arranged.

New year is a meeting with family, relatives and close friends.


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