Official holidays

New Year holidays and Christmas

New Year is the first on the calendar and in popularity. new year holidays  in Russia last for 10 calendar days from the 1st of January until the 10th. Currently the New Year is a bigger holiday than Christmas in Russia. Since 1992 Christmas has been openly observed in Russia and now the New Year's celebration usually flows into the celebration of the Russian Orthodox Christmas. Russian Christmas comes two weeks later than in other countries, on January 7. This difference is due to the Russian Orthodox Church following the Julian calendar.

Defender of the Fatherland Day

On 23 February, during the Defender of the Fatherland Day Russia honors those who are presently serving in the Armed Forces and those who have served in the past. During the era of the Soviet Union, it was called the Red Army Day or the Day of the Soviet Army and Navy (celebrating the day of the first mass draft of the Red Army in Petrograd and Moscow or of the first combat action against the invading German forces).

International Women's Day

Every 8 March , the United Nations declares this day as the International Women's Day to celebrate women and the accomplishments they have made to society. Other than in the former Soviet republics, it is not celebrated much throughout the world. It is traditional on this holiday to present women with gifts and flowers to express appreciation for their work, love and devotion. It can be regarded as the equivalent of Mother's Day combined with some aspects of Valentine's Day. Thus, nowadays Russian women hardly ever recollect that this holiday originated as a day of rebellion of women struggling for equal rights with men. This day was very special to the Russians in the 1940s.

Spring and Labour Day

In the former Soviet Union, 1 May was International Workers' Day and was celebrated with huge parades in cities like Moscow. Though the celebrations are low key nowadays, several groups march on that day to protest grievances the workers have.

Victory Day

Every May 9th, Russia celebrates the victory over Nazi Germany, while remembering those who died in order to achieve it. On 9 May 1945 (by Moscow time) the German military surrendered to the Soviet Union and the Allies of World War II in Berlin (Karlshorst). A military parade is held in Moscow to celebrate the day. Victory Day (  Den Pobedy) is by far one of the biggest Russian holidays. It commemorates those who died in WWII and pays tribute to survivors and veterans. Flowers and wreaths are laid on wartime graves and special parties and concerts are organized for veterans. In the evening there is a firework display. A huge military parade, hosted by the President of the Russian Federation, is annually organized in Moscow on Red Square. Similar parades are organized in all major Russian cities.

Russia Day

Russia Day  is a holiday, somewhat smillar to independence day, celebrated on June 12th. On this day, in 1990, Russian parliament formally declared Russian sovereignty over Russia (RSFSR). The holiday was officially established in 1992. Initially it was named Day of the Adoption of the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Russian Federation, on 1 February 2002 it was officially renamed to Russia Day (in 1998 Boris Yeltsin offered this name socially). There exist a misconception in Russian society, that this holiday also called Russia Independence Day, but it never had such a name in official documents. According to the survey of Levada Center in May 2009, 44% of the respondents named the holiday as Independence Day of Russia.

Unity Day

Unity Day was first celebrated on November 4, 2005, commemorates the popular uprising led by Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky which ejected the Polish invaders from Moscow in November of 1612, and more generally the end of the Time of Troubles and foreign intervention in Russia. The event was marked by a public holiday which was held in Russia on October 22 (Old Style) from 1649 till 1917. Its name alludes to the idea that all the classes of Russian society willingly united to preserve Russian statehood when its demise seemed inevitable, even though there was neither Tsar nor Patriarch to guide them. Most observers view this as an attempted replacement to counter Communist demonstrations on November 7 holiday, which marked the anniversary of the October Revolution. Recently a film 1612 was made to explain to the Russian audiences the history behind the new holiday. National Unity Day is also known as Consolidation Day (as an alternative translation), which people in Russia celebrate on November 3 - November 4.

Popular holidays which are not public holidays

  • New Year according to Julian Calendar on January 14

  • Students (Tatiana) Day on January 25

  • Valentine's Day

  • Maslenitsa (a week before the Great Lent)

  • Easter

  • Cosmonautics Day on April 12

  • Radio Day on May 7

  • Ivan Kupala Day on July 7





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