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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)



  • Pyotr Tchaikovskys popular ballet The Nutcracker premiered at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg in 1892.
    Photo: Natasha Razina / SPT

Being alover oflists, particularly eclectic ones, I thought it might be entertaining totake alook atwhat cultural, or semi-cultural, events have occurred over thecenturies inmid-December. While sticking close tothe date ofDec. 15, I also take short forays intoa few neighboring dates inorder toinclude events ofinterest andimportance.

1547, Dec. 17. Ivan IV, known popularly as the Terrible but properly as the Awesome, assumes thetitle ofTsar, or Caesar. Its thefirst time theterm is used inRussian history.

1699, Dec. 15. Peter theGreat decrees that fromJan. 1, 1700, Russia will observe theJulian Calendar, anact which held force until 1918 when theSoviet government accepted theGregorian Calendar, thus bringing Russia inline with most ofthe rest ofthe world.

1734, Dec. 16. Arequest is received inthe St. Petersburg treasury toissue payment toour Italian actors andmusicians fortwo months ofsalaries andtravel expenses toItaly.

1812, Dec. 14. Thelast ofNapoleons army is forced fromRussian territory. Fifty-some years later, Leo Tolstoy would write brilliantly about this andattending events inWar andPeace.

1818, Dec. 15. Alexander Pushkin makes three drawings two sketches ofthe actress Yekaterina Semyonova andone sketch called Le baiser, thekiss.

1825, Dec. 14. TheDecembrist Rebellion takes place onSenate Square inSt. Petersburg.

1828, Dec. 15. Yevgeny Baratynskys poem The Ball is published with Pushkins Count Nulin ina collection entitled Two Tales inVerse.

1831, Dec. 15. Pavel Nashchokin throws aGypsy party forPushkin inMoscow. Thenext day thepoet wrote tohis wife, Nashchokin gave us aGypsy evening yesterday. I am so unaccustomed to[such things] that my head still hurts fromthe shouting ofguests andthe singing ofGypsies.

1833, Dec. 13. Nicholas I byedict establishes thefirst official Russian national anthem, God Save theTsar, music byAlexei Lvov, lyrics byVasily Zhukovsky.

1856, Dec. 14. Fyodor Dostoevsky writes tohis friend Chokan Valikhanov, theKazakh historian, folklorist andsecret service agent inthe Russian Army: You write that you love me. AndI declare toyou without ceremony that I have come tolove you. I never felt such astrong attraction foranyone, including my own brother, as I have foryou. Lord knows how it happened.

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Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDAs Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBAs Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.