Every nation has its own special days marked as national holidays where everyone gets to have a break and celebrate the important day together with their fellow citizens. The most common holidays are Independence Day and religious holiday. Russia, being a very old country with a long history and rich diversity, has a long list of holidays. Some of these festive days are even celebrated not only by native Russians but also people from other countries. The festive calendar of Russia is the best reflection of the many-sided and diverse history of this country. In it, state and patriotic holidays (many of which go back to Soviet times) are organically combined with religious celebrations that were noted in tsarist Russia.
There are actually more than three hundred holidays celebrated in Russia. The ones marked as public holidays include the Labor Day, Victory Day, Russia Day, the Day of National Unity, the ever-popular New Year, Day of Defender of the Fatherland, and the International Women’s Day. Some holidays are only celebrated by certain groups – which are not included in the public holidays. Here are some of the most popular holidays in Russia celebrated by the majority of its people.
1. Night from December 31 to January 1, New Year
It is perhaps the most beloved holiday in Russia. People’s festivity is further enhanced by the fact that the New Year is followed by holidays – 9 or 10 days off in a row in early January (usually from 1 to 9 or 10.) Traditionally, New Year is a family holiday that is usually held at home with loved ones, but some Russians meet it on the main square of the city (usually all the fun is concentrated there). The restaurants host New Year’s shows, places for which must be booked at least one month in advance.
2. January 7, Christmas in Russia
On the night of January 6 to 7, Orthodox Russians celebrate the feast of the Nativity of Christ, which is a public holiday. You have probably known that in Russia the church at the beginning of the 20th century moved from the Julian calendar to the new Gregorian calendar, which results in the 13 calendar-days differ from the calendar used by other Christians. Christmas, as a holiday in Russia, is significantly different from its counterpart in the rest of the Christian world.
3. February 23, Defender of the Fatherland Day
On this day, veterans of the Great Patriotic War – men and women are celebrated. Among the traditions of the holiday that have survived today is the laying of flowers at memorial sites, particularly in Moscow – this is the solemn laying of wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin walls by the first persons of the state. As well as holding festive concerts and patriotic actions, there is also an act of fireworks in the heroic cities of Russia.
4. End of February – beginning of March (dates change every year), Maslenitsa
Also known as the Pancake Week, it is one of the most fun and spectacular holidays of the Russian people. It lasts a week, and in each year the dates differ depends on the weather. The roots of Shrovetide are pagan. It symbolizes the beginning of spring and farewell to winter.
Carnival festivities take place on the streets of the cities: actors dress up in folk costumes, arrange comic fist fights, storm snow fortresses, dance and sing. Concerts are held in the squares. Maslenitsa is especially picturesque in ancient Russian cities, because there, like nowhere else, you feel closeness to the original traditions.
5. March 8, International Women’s Day
The date is considered one of the most important days in Russia. It is the day where women are celebrated, being grateful for, and gifted presents and flowers. International women’s day is more festive than Valentine’s Day in Russia.
6. April (the date changes every year, but the day of the week remains the same; Sunday), Easter
Easter is the main Christian holiday dedicated to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. On the night of Saturday to Sunday, a procession is held (a solemn procession of believers with candles and icons) and the Easter service, which lasts all night. It is shown on some television channels.
On Easter, it is customary to paint boiled chicken eggs in various colors (some of them even draw intricate pictures), as well as bake Easter cakes (Easter cake – sweet bread of a cylindrical shape). Easter cakes and Easter eggs are sold in church shops, where anyone can buy them.
7. May 1, Spring and Labor Day
Despite the long history of the day which makes it called with many names; the Day of Solidarity of Workers or the Holiday of Spring and Labor, for many Russians May 1 traditionally symbolizes the revival and coming of spring.
8. June 12, Day of Russia
Russia Day is an important state holiday of the Russian Federation, celebrated annually on June 12. Until 2002, it was referred to as the Day of the adoption of the Declaration on State Sovereignty of Russia. This is one of the “youngest” public holidays in the country.
9. November 4, Day of National Unity of Russia
Also known as the Day of Military Glory of Russia – National Unity Day is celebrated annually on November 4, starting in 2005. This state holiday is set in honor of an important event in the history of Russia; the liberation of Moscow from Polish interventionists in 1612, and is dedicated to the Day of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God.
There are many, many more celebrations in Russia. It seems they have a special day for everything included raspberry pies and internet. You probably have heard that one of the Russian’s stereotypes is them being stern and stiff, while actually they like to appreciate everything and makes everyone feel special through so many kinds of special holidays dedicated to professions and more.