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account of the relations and friends, who are kind enough to invite us to their houses. However, as Easter is approaching, I hope to have more to tell the next time I write; meanwhile adieu!
Conclusion of Lent-The Metropolitan washing the feet of twelve
priests—Want of decorum in a Russian congregation-Commencement of Easter Sunday-Ceremony at the Kazan churchChristos voscress—The Emperor and a Mahometan sentry—The katchellies— Coaches and six-Grand promenade-The Emperor and Empress-Silent reception of his Majesty, in accordance with Russian ideas of etiquette - Number of holydays injurious to Russia—Why not abolished.
Petersburg, April 24th, 1838. LENT is now over, and the Russians, to their great joy, are once more at liberty to eat, dance, and marry as they please.
On the day before Good Friday, we went to the Kazan church, to see the ceremony of the Metropolitan washing the feet of twelve priests. In the centre of the church, which was much crowded, a platform was raised about five feet from the ground, and on this were placed thirteen chairs, six on each side for the priests, and one at the top for the Metropolitan. Mass was first celebrated at the grand altar, and at the conclusion, the Metropolitan ascended the platform, and took his seat, facing the altar, while six
or seven deacons placed themselves behind his chair. A service was now chaunted, and soon after it had begun, two bishops made their appearance on the platform, and after turning round, and bowing to the altar, and then saluting in like manner the Metropolitan, they seated themselves on either side of him : two priests followed, and took their places in the two next chairs in like manner; others succeeded them, and at last the twelve chairs were filled. The Metropolitan then rose up, laid aside his ribbons and other decorations, took off several robes one after another, and girded himself with a long towel, the chaunted service still continuing. He then proceeded round to each of the twelve priests, with a large silver bason, and went through the form of washing their feet, a deacon accompanying and assisting him.
This part of the ceremony occupied but a very short time, and the service was immediately afterwards concluded.
It is impossible to enter a Russian church without being struck by the want of decorum which the absence of seats produces. The whole congregation, except a few persons of consequence, who are placed near the altar, stand pell-mell, without order or regularity; so that when the church is full, the crowd becomes an absolute mob, and those who are attending to the service, are disturbed by the moving of others around them. The services in the Greek church are many of them very long, and
the fatigue of standing during the whole time is very great.
On the Saturday night, about eleven o'clock, I went again to the Kazan church to see Easter Sunday ushered in. There was a sort of illumination in the streets, earthen lamps being placed in rows on the edge of the foot-pavement; but the light which they produced was far from brilliant; the lamps were wide apart, and the effect very paltry, as you may suppose. There was an unusual bustle in the whole town; the pavements were crowded with foot passengers, and a ceaseless stream of carriages, with lighted lamps, was rolling along.
Inside the church, near the door, were two stalls for the sale of wax candles of various sizes, and these could scarcely be furnished fast enough to supply the demand ; for almost every person who entered, bought at least one taper, and many provided themselves with five or six : they did not, however, light them as yet, but kept them in readiness for midnight. After looking for some time at the crowd which kept moving in and out of the church, I went and stood in front of it until, at half-past eleven, a rocket was sent up, and a gun fired from the fortress : this being a signal for divine service to commence in all the churches in Petersburg. I did not hear the second gun which the fortress fired at midnight to announce the commencement of Easter-day; but all the people immediately lighted their candles, and a procession
issued from the church, and made the circuit of its walls outside ; the ecclesiastics who headed it bearing the cross and sacred banners, and chaunting a service, and the congregation following them with lighted tapers.
I observed that many of the common people in the crowd had in their hands what appeared to be plates tied up in napkins, and I find that this was the first meat which they intended to eat on the conclusion of Lent, and which they brought to church according to an ancient custom, to be blessed by the priests.
I should have told you that on Good Friday all the Court go,--the gentlemen as usual in uniform, but the ladies in deep mourning,—to kiss the representation of our Saviour's tomb in the Palace chapel. On Easter Sunday nothing goes on but felicitations, presenting of eggs (the emblem of the Resurrection), and kissing. Servants
may kiss their masters or mistresses; and a peasant may kiss the Emperor, though I should doubt whether in the latter case the privilege is often exercised. “ Christos voscress," “ Christ is risen," is the universal salutation; and it is a curious thing to see two peasants or tradesmen meet in the street: “ Christos voscress," they cry out; then off go their hats and caps ; and then with one accord they rush together and inflict on one another three kisses *
* The custom of men kissing one another is as common in Russia as in Germany. Gentlemen hardly ever presume to shake hands