The biggest Russian holiday is New Year (1 January).
During the Soviet time people were not allowed to celebrate Christmas
(Russian Christmas is 7 January), and New Year was the most cheerful
The next holiday is the Old New Year (13 January). Russians had a
different calendar before February 1918. The difference between Julian
(the old Russian) and Gregorian (European) calendars was 13 days, and
after the Soviet government adopted Gregorian calendar Russians started to
celebrate many holidays twice: according to the new style and the old one.
Non-official "Men's Day" is 23
February, it is a public holiday called "The Homeland Defender's
Day". All men in Russia are liable for call-up (including reservists), so
they all are celebrities. On this day women usually give men small gifts.
Official "Women's Day" is 8 March. On
this day men give women gifts, usually flowers. Men also are supposed to
do all the housework, this is pretty nice - at least once a year women can
take a break and forget about all those dishes, cooking, kids, take a
magazine and relax on the coach...
1 April is non-official "the Day of Laugh". People
tell jokes to each other, newspapers and TV publish funny stories and
jokes. The motto of this day: Do not trust anybody on 1 April ("Pervoye
aprelya - nikomu ne veryu").
1 May is the Day of Labor. During Soviet time there
were huge demonstrations on this day, as everybody was obliged to show his
loyalty to the state; now only communists organize meetings on this date.
9 May - Victory Day. 2-day public holiday (8-9 May),
the day when Nazi Germany capitulated in 1945 after 4-year war with Soviet
Union and other countries. Soviet Union lost 20 million people in the war.
The minute of silence announced on the Central TV in the memory of
deceased at 9:00 P.M., and fireworks thereafter.
12 June - the Independence Day. It's an official
holiday but Russians are not used to it yet. They spend this day on their
"dachas" - small plots in countryside where they plant some vegetables.
1 September is the Day of Knowledge - it's the
beginning of a school year. Children go to schools with flowers for
teachers, there are meetings before the classes start - nice and exciting.
7 November - the Day of October revolution (25 October
according to the old calendar). It's still an official holiday in Russia
though there is not such a huge celebration as it used to be during the
12 December - The Constitution Day. This day the first
Constitution of the Russian Federation was adopted in 1993 (previous
Constitutions were all Soviet Union's). It is a recent public holiday, and
there are no special customs connected with this day.
Russians LOVE to celebrate. They adopted the Western holidays such as
St. Valentine, Catholic Christmas (they celebrate Christmas twice -
Catholic and Orthodox) and Halloween. They also appreciate Chinese New
Year, Muslim and Jewish holidays, as Russians are very tolerant to other
When there is a public holiday, the weekend is shifted towards the
holiday: if the holiday is on Thursday, Sunday will be the working day and
Friday the day off. The same when the public holiday is on Tuesday:
Saturday becomes the working day and Monday the day off. If the holiday is
on Wednesday, there will be no long weekend. There are quite a few long
weekends every year, which many Russians use to travel, locally and
abroad, the others spend holidays on their "dachas" (country-side houses).