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Russian Holidays

Observed National Holidays

Russian holidays present a motley picture new and old, official and unofficial, professional and private, religious and secular. All occasions warrant a celebration. We describe here only a few principal holidays, in chronological order.

The Official Holidays

January 1 New Years Day
January 7 Christmas, Russian Orthodox
March 8 International Womens Day
May 1-2 Spring and Labor Holiday
May 9 Victory Day (Over German Nazism in the WW2)
June 12 Independence Day
August 22 Day of the Russian Federation State Flag
November 7 Day of Accord and Conciliation
December 12 Constitution Day

* The New Year is first on the calendar and in popularity. Many celebrate it twice, on January 1 and 14 (which to January 1 in the Julian calendar, used in Russia before 1918.

* Next is February 23, Soldier's Day, known until recently as Soviet Army Day, popularly viewed as holiday for all men and closely followed by its female counter-part, Women's Day, March 8, when women receive flowers, presents and are toasted by men.

* Mayday, until recently officially termed International Workers' Solidarity Day, is now known as Spring and Labour Day. On some years, it occurs on or close to with Russian Orthodox Easter, so some people celebrate in church while some attend customary demonstrations.

* Russia celebrates Victory Day on May 9 to commemorate the millions fallen in World War II. Flowers and wreaths are laid on wartime graves on this day, and veterans come out into the streets wearing their military orders and medals. Alas, there are fewer of them with every passing year.

* June 12 is Russia's newest holiday, Independence Day, which commemorates the adoption in 1991 of the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Russian Federation.

* November 7 - the anniversary of the socialist revolution of October 1917 which established communist power still survives. The system is gone, but many still cling to the custom.

* Church feasts have been reborn. Easter is celebrated nationwide, as of old, and Christmas became a day off. Muslims, Jews and Buddhists also celebrate their feasts without fear of secular authorities.

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