Official Holidays of the Russian Federation:

January 1-5

New Year’s Vacation

January 7th

Christmas

February 23rd

Defender of the Motherland Day

March 8th

International Women’s Day

May 1st

Spring and Labor Celebration

May 9th

Victory Day

June 12th

Russia Day

November 4th

Civil Unity Day

New Year's Day is one of the most favorite holidays in Russia. On the New Year's Eve Russians decorate fir-trees, hide presents for each other underneath them, make fireworks, cook delicious meals, set the table and celebrate in the joyous company of family and friends. The integral part of this holiday are Farther Frost and his granddaughter "Snegurochka" (a snow girl). For the first time this holiday was proclaimed by Peter The Great's order dated back to January 20th, 1700. Nowadays many celebrate coming of the New Year twice - on January 1st and 14th (which corresponds to January 1st in the Julian calendar, used in Russia before 1918).

Orthodox Christmas: This period from 7th till 19th of January is the best period for telling fortunes, as it is the Saint Christmas week, when people have fun, wear fancy clothes and travel from one home to another asking for favors. During Christmas holidays people try to be better, purer; it is time for good deeds. Christmas is the holiday of waiting for miracles, a unique mixture of folk and Christian customs and traditions.

Defender of the Motherland Day, also known as The Army Day, or Men's Day, is a tribute to all the generations of Russian soldiers from the ancient times till modern days, to all those who courageously defended our Motherland from invaders. On this day the entire masculine population - from boys to old men - receive special greetings and presents. Women have a wonderful opportunity to convey their warmest and kindest feelings to the loved ones and to indulge them with sings of attention and affection.

International Women's Day was born at a time of great social turbulence and crisis, and thus initially was associated with a tradition of protest and political activism. On March 8, 1857 textile female-workers of New York held a rally against low wages and bad labor conditions. In 1910 to commemorate these events the International Women's Congress in Copenhagen proclaimed this date as the International Women's Day to be marked annually. In Russia it has been celebrated since 1913 and now is also treated as the first spring holiday, which cherishes the love for and beauty of the Russian women and women all over the world.

Spring and Labor Celebration dates its history back to May 1st, 1886, when the workers of Chicago went on strike and demanded that the workday be cut from 15 hours down to 8 hours. In Russia this holiday was celebrated for the first time on May 1st, 1890 as the International Workers' Solidarity Day. In 1997 it received its current name.

Victory Day is one of the most sacred holidays for the Russian people. Russia commemorates on this day the dozens of millions of its countrymen fallen in World War II. Flowers and wreaths are laid on the wartime graves. Veterans come out into the streets wearing their military decorations and medals. The entire nation pays tribute to the eternal sacrifice that ensured its future.

Russia Day celebrates the adoption in 1991 of the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Russian Federation, which opened the current page in the history book of our country and is considered to be its official National Holiday.

Civil Unity Day, though being a newly adopted holiday, refers to a critical point in Russian history and honors the liberation of Moscow on November 4th, 1612 from the Polish invaders - in great manifestation of the national unity - by a people's army consisting of all classes of the Russian society.

 

 

 

© 2004, Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Houston.