Russians love to celebrate, and Russia’s public holidays should not be treated lightly.
For the most important holidays — New Year’s, Christmas, and the May holidays — many shops close down completely and city streets become strangely quiet. All government offices are closed on public holidays, and most overseas embassies are too.
Here are the official public holidays in Russia:
|1, 2 and 7 January||New Year and Orthodox Christmas|
|8 March||Womens’ Day|
|1, 2 May||May Day|
|9 May||Victory Day|
|12 June||Independence Day|
|4 November||Day of National Unity|
|12 December||Constitution Day|
1, 2 January – New Year
The first holiday of the year is New Year’s Day. People see the New Year in at midnight on the 31st of December. They greet the New Year with champagne and listen to the Kremlin chimes beating 12 o’clock.
There are many New Year traditions in Russia. In every home there is a New Year tree glittering with colored lights and decorations. Children always wait for Father Frost to come and give them a present.
7 January – Orthodox Christmas
Peter the Great, an outstanding Russian monarch, introduced many changes to the life of Russia and the Russian calendar. For example, Christmas, while remaining one of the main Christian holidays in Russia, is celebrated on the 7th of January, in compliance with the Russian calendar, but not on the 25th of December.
8 March – International Women’s Day
Despite the word “International”, it seems that this holiday is only celebrated in Russia and former Soviet republics!
The 8th of March is a national holiday and a day off. Several nations celebrate this, but only a few acknowledge it as an official, non-working holiday. The 8th of March is one of the favorite holidays for most Russian women and along with New Year and Christmas and St.Valentine’s Day, it is also one of the most romantic holidays.
1, 2 May – May Day
It was a major holiday in the Soviet Union and other Communist countries, and also in many other parts of the world. Even in today’s Russia, it is an annual holiday devoted to the recognition of working people’s contribution to society. A unique display of the most modern weapons and seemingly endless troops of soldiers is held in Moscow, the capital of Russia on this day.
May day, until recently officially termed International Workers’ Solidarity Day, is now known as Spring and Labour Day. Some years, it occurs on or close to Russian Orthodox Easter, so some people celebrate in church while others attend customary demonstrations.
9 May -Victory Day
To celebrate Victory Day, the President of Russia sends congratulatory letters to all the veterans. There are parades, feasts, presents and flowers to give thanks to the people who fought for the defense of Russia. In all the cities there are meetings in which a leader or the mayor of the city gives speeches about the achievement of people in the war and veterans tell about their adventures in the war.
12 June – Independence Day
June 12 is Russia’s newest holiday, Independence Day, which commemorates the adoption in 1991 of the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Russian Federation.
4 November – Day of National Unity
Celebrated since 2005. This day marks liberation of Russia from a foreign invasion.
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.
12 December – Constitution Day
This was instituted in memory of the nation-wide referendum held on December 12, 1993, which resulted in the adoption of the first Constitution of the Russian Federation. The original Soviet Constitution was first observed on December 5th, and then changed to October 7th in 1977. In today’s Russia, Constitution Day (December 12) is not considered a popular holiday, for many people Constitution Day is simply an additional day off.
However, sometimes it can be a little complicated figuring out which days the country shuts down.
If the holiday falls on a Monday or a Friday, then everything is simple – it’s a day off. If it falls on a weekend, then the Friday or Monday will also be a day off.
If it falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday, then the weekend will be shifted a day in the right direction and the Saturday or Sunday becomes a working day, with the three days off being Sunday-Monday-Tuesday or Thursday-Friday-Saturday.
If the holiday falls on a Wednesday, then there is no long weekend.