«Приезжайте к 17-му. В сей день, его же сотвори господь, я именинник»

Published: 29 January 2023

While living in Moscow, Anton Chekhov often invited guests to his birthday. These merry and noisy night parties were attended by the artist Isaac Levitan, the poet Liodor Palmin, the writer Lazarev-Gruzinsky, "Yashenki" – as the Chekhov sisters jokingly called the Yanov sisters, girl-friend Evdokia Efros.

In January 1891, Chekhov was in St. Petersburg. He was honored at the Maly Yaroslavets tavern, which was located on Bolshaya Morskaya Street. The invitees marked the kulebyak and a great number of toasts to the health of the birthday boy. The family members also did not stay away from the wonderful event and ...were celebrating the it without presence of the birthday boy, but with his guests. The "King of Moscow reporters" Vladimir Gilyarovsky dropped in as well. Next day he "gave feedback" to his friend: "I was at your name-day party yesterday, Anton Pavlovich, and, being true to myself all along the line, I drank all the vodka to your health and left." Anton Pavlovich wrote home from St. Petersburg to Moscow: "I have the honor to congratulate you on your birthday; I wish you and him health, prosperity..."

Some of the writer's birthdays were quiet and modest. "The day before yesterday I was a birthday boy; I was expecting gifts and did not get a bean," - Chekhov wrote to Alexey Suvorin on January 19, 1895. "Dear Masha, thank you for the letter of congratulations,  that I received yesterday. I have already turned 38 years old; this is a little too much, although and however, I feel as if I have lived for 89 years," - he wrote to his sister in January 1898 from Nice. In 1903, he reported to her from Yalta: "My name day was boring, no guests at all. But there are a lot of gifts: pineapple jam, which I don't like, blotting paper on a drawer that can't be put anywhere, a rock crystal pen that can't be written with, and sweets that I don't eat."

The writer's birthday on January 17, 1904 was exceptional with all the honors and celebrations. Chekhov was in Moscow at that time, and his name day concurred with the premiere of the play "The Cherry Orchard" at the Moscow Art Theater. "Chekhov's appearance on the stage was greeted with thunderous and prolonged applause from the entire auditorium, - newspaper "Russian Word reported. It gave a detailed account of this "Chekhov night party."

Konstantin Stanislavsky also recalled the gifts to Chekhov: "Look. The artist Korovin sent me a wonderful present! That is something!

- Which one? - I asked.

- Fishing rods.

... all the other gifts presented to Chekhov did not satisfy him, and some of them even angered him with their banality.

- Listen, you can't give a silver pen and an old inkwell to a writer.

- And what one should give you?

- A clyster tube. Since I'm a doctor, listen. Or, maybe, socks. My wife doesn't take care of me. She's an actress. But I'm wearing torn socks. Listen, dusya (sweet heart), - I tell her, -my toe is coming out on my right foot.- Wear it on your left leg, - she is saying.- I can't do that! - Anton Pavlovich joked and again went into fits of a merry laughter."