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How Russians Celebrated the Year 1700

Proclamation on the Introduction of the New Calendar, December 20, 1699

The Great Sovereign ordered that it be said: It is known to the him, the Great Sovereign, that not only in many European Christian countries, but also among the Slavic peoples, who are in full accord with our Eastern Orthodox Church, such as: the Wallachians, Moldavians, Serbs, Dalmations, Bulgarians, and Cherkess, subjects of the Great Sovereign himself, and all the Greeks, from whom our Orthodox faith was received, years are counted starting eight days from the birth of Christ, that is from the first day of January, and not from the creation of the world... And now the 1699th year from the birth of Christ has come, and next January from the first of the month will begin the new 1700th year along with the new century. And for this good and opportune occasion, the Great Sovereign ordered that from now on years are to be counted in the chancelleries and in all papers and documents are to be dated from the present first of January from the birth of Christ as 1700. And as a sign of this benevolent endeavor and the new centennial era in the capital city of Moscow, after the requisite thanks to God and singing of prayers in Churches and in the homes... decorations are to be put up along the large streets and thoroughfares and along the gates of the greatest houses of lay and clerical servitors. [They] should be made from the limbs and branches of pine, yule and juniper trees in accordance with the models that are displayed at the trading court and the pharmacy building or in whatever way seems most appropriate and decent; Poor people should put up at least a bough or a branch on the gate or on their houses. and it should be done on time, this coming January by the first day of this year; and this decoration is to stay in place until the seventh day of 1700. And on the first day in January, as a sign of merriment, in congratulating each other on the New Year and centennial era, the follow should be performed: when on the Great Red Square the fireworks are lighted and the salute begins, the high court Boyars, and Okolnichyi, the important officials, the most prominent people of the chancellery, military servitors and high ranking merchants, each in his own court, should perform a triple salute from a small cannon, for those who have them, or from several muskets or other small arms and set off several rockets, as many as can be mustered. And in the large streets, where there is space, from January 1 to 7 bonfires should be lit at night from logs or brush or straw... Small families should assemble in groups of five or six households and build their fires, for those who so desire, on platforms in one two or three tar barrels, which they should fill it with straw or brush to light. This is so that it will be within the power of the Burgmeister to [oversee] these salutes and fires and also to have jurisdiction over these fires and salutes and decorations.

Source: Polnoe Sobranie Zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii, v. 3, no. 1736. Translated by Nathaniel Knight 1/18/2000