Drawing on the Museum’s rich collection of holiday ornaments and memorabilia, The Wintertime Carnival presents the story of winter holidays during the reign of the Romanov dynasty and the Soviet era.
Many of the Russian winter holiday traditions were introduced by the Romanov tsars in the early 19th century. A century passed, and the 1917 Bolshevik revolution swept away many traditions of the previous era, including Christmas. The atheist Soviet regime reintroduced New Year in 1936, but Christmas did not appear on Russian calendars until 1991, when the Soviet Union fell apart.
In a country with a heavily politicized public sphere, New Year was the only non-ideological annual holiday that retained its magic throughout the bleakest years of the Soviet regime.
Spanning the entire Main Gallery of the Museum, this exhibition will reveal how a winter holiday was celebrated in a country that banned Christmas, as well as all other religious holidays.
The Wintertime Carnival: Traditions of Old is on view November 4, 2023 – January 21, 2024.