On This Day: A Mid-December Miscellany
Throughout the ages, the end of year has proven to be a time of high drama.
Published: December 18, 2013 (Issue # 1791)
Being a lover of lists, particularly eclectic ones, I thought it might be entertaining to take a look at what cultural, or semi-cultural, events have occurred over the centuries in mid-December. While sticking close to the date of Dec. 15, I also take short forays into a few neighboring dates in order to include events of interest and importance.
1547, Dec. 17. Ivan IV, known popularly as “the Terrible” but properly as “the Awesome,” assumes the title of Tsar, or Caesar. It’s the first time the term is used in Russian history.
1699, Dec. 15. Peter the Great decrees that from Jan. 1, 1700, Russia will observe the Julian Calendar, an act which held force until 1918 when the Soviet government accepted the Gregorian Calendar, thus bringing Russia in line with most of the rest of the world.
1734, Dec. 16. A request is received in the St. Petersburg treasury to issue payment to “our Italian actors and musicians” for two months of salaries and travel expenses to Italy.
1812, Dec. 14. The last of Napoleon’s army is forced from Russian territory. Fifty-some years later, Leo Tolstoy would write brilliantly about this and attending events in “War and Peace.”
1818, Dec. 15. Alexander Pushkin makes three drawings — two sketches of the actress Yekaterina Semyonova and one sketch called “Le baiser,” the kiss.
1825, Dec. 14. The Decembrist Rebellion takes place on Senate Square in St. Petersburg.
1828, Dec. 15. Yevgeny Baratynsky’s poem “The Ball” is published with Pushkin’s “Count Nulin” in a collection entitled “Two Tales in Verse.”
1831, Dec. 15. Pavel Nashchokin throws a Gypsy party for Pushkin in Moscow. The next day the poet wrote to his wife, “Nashchokin gave us a Gypsy evening yesterday. I am so unaccustomed to [such things] that my head still hurts from the shouting of guests and the singing of Gypsies.”
1833, Dec. 13. Nicholas I by edict establishes the first official Russian national anthem, “God Save the Tsar,” music by Alexei Lvov, lyrics by Vasily Zhukovsky.
1856, Dec. 14. Fyodor Dostoevsky writes to his friend Chokan Valikhanov, the Kazakh historian, folklorist and secret service agent in the Russian Army: “You write that you love me. And I declare to you without ceremony that I have come to love you. I never felt such a strong attraction for anyone, including my own brother, as I have for you. Lord knows how it happened.”
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