Today, someone in our country thinks that Russians rest too much and often. Someone, on the contrary, claims that there could be more “red days” in the calendar. In such cases, supporters of both approaches, as a rule, resort to comparisons: what was the case with this before? And if the number of holidays of the Soviet era is still alive in the memory of many compatriots, then there is much less clarity about the events that took place before 1917. Well, let’s talk about them.
To start a conversation about public holidays of the Russian Empire, one should say that such a concept in the country … did not exist at all! No, the holidays, which were then called “non-partisan”, were in the calendar, and there were more of them. However, they were all divided into two clear categories: “royal days” and days of religious celebrations. If we remember that Orthodoxy in Russia had the status of a state religion, and the representatives of the reigning house of the Romanovs ruled it as absolute monarchs, then it is these dates that should be considered state holidays of the empire.
“For Faith, Tsar and Fatherland!”
At the same time, no one thought to celebrate any memorable anniversaries, for example, great military victories with which Russian weapons were glorified in many, or, say, the annexation of certain lands (at least, regularly and on an ongoing basis). It is not for nothing that in the entire well-known formula: “For faith, Tsar and Fatherland!” desperate land was mentioned in third place, last.
Consider the holiday calendar, taking as a basis the last years of the empire that are closest to us, in more detail. Let’s start with the “royal” days, of which there were ten in it. Four birthdays – Emperor Nikolai Alexandrovich and two empresses, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna and his mother, Maria Feodorovna, as well as the heir to the throne – Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich. Accordingly, the same number of name days, or, in the terms of the time, “namesakes”, of the same splendid persons. Also separately celebrated the anniversary of the accession to the throne of the sovereign and the date of the sacred coronation of their imperial majesties: Nicholas and his wife.
There were, of course, much more church holidays. All of them were divided into twelve and great. Among the first were both non-transferable (that is, celebrated for years and centuries on the same calendar date), and transferable, which were tied to a certain number of days that passed after one of the main church holidays, as a rule, Easter. It is hardly worth listing here the Orthodox calendar, which is very rich in memorable dates: there is not enough space, and there is no need for anything. Let’s dwell on the fact that on average it turned out 12-13 twelve and 6-7 great. Sometimes two holidays fell on the same day, and in general there were “variations” in the calendars of different years.
In general, the number of “non-government days” in the Russian Empire exceeded forty a year. After all, some holidays were celebrated for two or three days. “All the people rejoice and rejoice,” as it is sung in the song that has come down to us. On Easter, the “holidays” lasted the entire decade. By the way, the usual January 1, New Year’s Day, was non-working solely due to the fact that, again, the dates marked in the church calendar fell on it. All these days off were fixed at the state level by a special law, which was signed on June 2, 1897 by Emperor Nicholas II. In accordance with the same document, it was not allowed to compel people of “other religions” to celebrate according to the Orthodox calendar, but it was prescribed and allowed to include holidays in their work schedule “in accordance with the laws of their faith.”
Before someone begins to groan, gasp and envy our ancestors who had such a luxurious work schedule, let me remind you of something. First of all, all Saturdays in the Russian Empire were working days. This time. The obligatory day off on Sunday, by the way, was established by the same imperial law, which was mentioned above. About 90% of the population of the country did not speak about any annual paid vacations. The exceptions were civil servants (both military and civil servants), as well as employees of state (state) industrial enterprises. They were granted leave on special request.