September 1, 1700 was a day when a very important event did not take place.
For centuries, the first of September had been a day of celebrating the New Year in Russia. It seems counterintuitive now, but it was quite logical, actually. August was when the most important agricultural activities of the year were completed. And if some unfortunate event or bad weather conditions stopped people from collecting crops, it meant almost certain death from starvation. So peasants worked very hard to bring in the crop.
Of course, peasants did not work on St. Elias day – August 2 (or July 20, old style). This day for religious ceremonies had pagan roots, in the annual celebrations of the god Perun, who was said to drive his chariot across the skies making thunderous noises, a common enough occurrence in the tempestuous days of early August.
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