Easter Cards of the early 20th century from the Collection of the Kirillo-Belozersky Museum-Reserve

The largest number of greeting cards of the early 20th century in the museum collection contains Easter messages. It confirms special significance of Easter among Orthodox holidays. Postcards served as a popular Easter present which was convenient for mailing. The main attribute of the holiday – coloured eggs as a part of various compositions – were mostly depicted on the Easter postcards. Cards made by painters and publishers of Western Europe were always in-demand in Russia. There were angels, bells and flowers on them. Snowdrops and lilies could be seen on some postcards from the museum collection. The lily is a perennial plant which blossoms earlier than other flowers in the countries of Southern Europe and in the Mediterranean countries. It has different symbolic meanings in Christianity; one of them is resurrection, revival, eternity. Return from the matins, Easter kisses, and children playing with Easter eggs served as subjects for the greeting cards. A girl holding the Easter bunny was depicted on one of them. The Easter bunny is associated with this holiday in Western Europe, because people believe that it is the Easter bunny that brings Easter eggs. Sometimes postcards were reproductions of pictures created by famous artists. There were festive ceremonies and still lifes, spring landscapes and gospel subjects on them. The postcard with the black-and-white reproduction of the Vasily Polenov’s picture “Christ among Disciples” was displayed at the exhibition. Cards with the views of Kirillov and the words “Christ is Risen!” as well as visiting cards were sometimes used for Easter greetings.

The museum collection includes an Easter postcard “Red egg” issued by the Community of St. Eugenia (the Committee caring about Sisters of Charity of the Red Cross). The community was named after the patron saint of Princess Eugenia Maximilianovna of Leuchtenberg, member of the Russian Imperial Family, who was its trustee. The picture was created by the artist V.A. Bobrov (1842-1918) who cooperated with the Community of St. Eugenia since 1899 and painted about 40 postcards. Money received by the community from the sale of the postcards was spent to help ill and poor Sisters of Charity.

The exhibition gave a chance to get acquainted with the back side of the postcards containing addresses. Postcards divided into two halves – one for a letter, another one for an address – were introduced in 1904. A drawing made by the artist S.V. Chekhoninin (1878-1936) was reproduced on the back side of the postcard published by the Community of St. Eugenia since 1915. It included the depiction of the Red Cross emblem in the middle of the rectangular stamp with the inscription “In favour of the Community of St. Eugenia” in the upper left corner of the postcard.

Colourful postcards were kept in the albums, sometimes they were placed on the wall in the Red corner.

Most of the Easter greetings exhibited in the museum were written by residents of Kirillov and the Kirillov district. Postcards addressed to the Mayorovs, natives of the Kudrino village of the Volokoslavino district, and the Tikhomirovs, teachers of the Petrovskoye settlement of the Talitsa district, were of interest. The display also presented postcards which were given to the museum in different years and by different people, including, V.A. Vedenin, A.N. Probichev, V.I. Gostinshchikov.

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