Table traditions of everyday culture of the Russian elite
All peoples had feasts and festive feasts, which suggests that this tradition common to all times and peoples dates back to ancient times. That is why in the tradition of hospitality we find numerous pagan ideas and beliefs that have reached archaic echoes to times closer to us. These traditions manifested themselves most clearly in the ruling circles, who, possessing large material resources, could afford more frequent festive relations.
A feast is a holiday; a feast is a meeting; a feast is an earthly partial analogue of paradise, abundance and joy; a feast is also the establishment and confirmation of good relations. Finally, the feast is the “killer” of hunger. For Plato.
the feast is also a deep philosophical dialogue with the Logos. Plato’s feast involves the exchange of ideas and access to a new spiritual level of development. Platonic love is thus a “feast of the spirit.” Without this deep reflection, the feast can turn into a banal and vulgar booze, worthy only of uneducated barbarians and rude savages. For them, a feast is a den where the “lecherous god” of drunkenness and gluttony rules.
Traditions of the Russian festive feast.
“with the whole family”, including the dead, dating back to pre-chronic times. The feast modeled an ideal society, reflecting the idea of an “abundant paradise”. Such ideas were preserved in the traditional view of the North Russian peasant until the 20th century.
The Russian tribal nobility, to the extent of their material strength and tribal capabilities, copied the royal feast and dressed up in front of each other (that is, before equals) in hospitality. We find descriptions of this kind of techniques in many researchers of the life of customs in the Russian past. They sin by frequent retelling of the same sources and contain very little generalizing material.
According to A. V. Gerashchenko, “feasts were then in the habit, and there were no holidays for the rich without treating the poor. Nobles and famous clerics mingled with crowds of guests of all classes: the spirit of brotherhood brought hearts together.
This rapprochement was prudently supported by our sovereigns for a long time – until the oppression of Russia by the Tatars. Nestor and his contemporaries speak with amazement about the reproduction of all kinds of game and domestic animals.
It is known that the clergy in the XIX century. advised the landowners not to participate in the peasant fraternities. The feast had the most important function of cultural and historical unification of members of one ethnic group, corporation or estate. Through him, internal ties were strengthened. Through him, the princes established and maintained foreign policy relations.
At the feast, it was customary to “light up”, that is, to have fun until you drop. Interestingly, in the “Slavic-Russian Lexicon” (1627) by the Kiev hieromonk Pampa Brenda, the word “fire” sounds like “pyros”. He could be both at a meeting and when seeing off guests. It could be nominal (in honor of a person) or festive.
The well-known Russian historian I. Zibeline sets out in detail the “order of the royal dinner.” After the distribution of bread and wine, the tsar “sent first courses to the most honored guests, and the stewards made the same gracious speeches”  as in the description of Herrnstein.
This “serving ceremony” took place four times during the dinner. Following this, “nature was served on all tables in great abundance … put on the tables as much as they could stare at; The guests ate what they liked. … The number of dishes served (servings) sometimes reached five hundred”. Such feasts were a match for epic feasts.
In order to show more differences in royal favors and to flatter the vanity of the nobles, Boris Godunov was the first to introduce dinner parties in the reign of Theodore, who invited duma dignitaries and treated them to his palaces, revealing to them all the hospitality of an ordinary host . “Hospitality, known to one of our Russians, differed most of all in private homes.
where liberty in getting around, combined with equality, did not offend anyone’s ambition. The owner gladly received the guest, did not skimp on him, put everything on the table that he had: food, honey and vodka, so as not to be considered inhospitable. From this came the proverb that is still used today: all the swords that are in the furnace are on the table. The greatest reproach was still, who will say: “You forgot my bread and salt” ”.
Historians note that “information about the family dinners of the boyars, the nobility and the rest of the estate has not reached us. There is some news about the grand-ducal dinners, which can somewhat acquaint us with the taste of that time. After serving food, the king was announced: “Sir! The meal has been served.”
In the 17th century boyars and rich people, having dinner at home without guests, had a simple but satisfying table; the food was made without seasonings, that is, without berries, sugar, pepper, ginger; it was salty and tasteless. As many different dishes as possible were prepared for the guests – from 50 to 100 dishes. They put one dish on the table, while the rest were kept by the servants; where there was little salt.
vinegar and pepper, the guests themselves added. Boris Godunov, upon the arrival of the Swedish prince Magnus, Xenia’s fiancé, sent him to the palace from 100 to 200 different dishes on the same golden dishes and golden vessels with thick golden lids. During the treats, at least 200 dishes were served on the table, and all on golden trays [Petraeus: Hits und Ericht von dem Gropssfurstenthumb. Muschkow, Leipzig, 1620. S. 278-282]. At the court, when they treated the envoys, they served from 150 to 200 dishes.