Russia has 12 public holidays each year. This article lists the Russian holidays 2011 will bring, giving their dates, and basic information about each holiday.
Russian public holidays usually fall on the same date each year. If the date of a holiday happens to fall on a weekend, then the following Monday is usually taken as a day off work.
Christmas and New Year – 1 January to 7 January
Russians celebrate New Year and Russian Christmas with six consecutive public holidays in 2011.
New Years Day – 1st January 2011
Bank Holiday – 3rd January 2011
Bank Holiday – 4th January 2011
Bank Holiday – 5th January 2011
Bank Holiday – 6th January 2011
Orthodox Christmas Day – 7th January 2011
Orthodox Christmas Day is celebrated on the 7th January, rather than 25th December, in Russia, because it corresponds to 25th December on the no longer used Julian calendar. Traditionally, every working day between New Year and Christmas is designated a public holiday.
Defender of the Fatherland Day – February 23rd
Also known as Defender of the Motherland day, this day celebrates those who have served in the military and have defended Russian (and previously the Soviet Union) against its many external threats.
This day was previously celebrated as Red Army Day and as Soviet Army and Navy Day. It is generally referred to as just ‘Army Day’ by most Russians and can be used to not just celebrate the military, but Russian men in general.
International Women’s Day – March 8th
The Soviet Union was a keen supporter of International Women’s Day and made it a public holiday for the first time in 1965.
Although it is not celebrated much elsewhere, the tradition remains in Russia. Men are supposed to present women with flowers and gifts on this day.
Labour Day – May 1st
Celebrated on the 1st May, Labour Day was the key public holiday of the Soviet Union, and was often used to showcase the USSR’s military might – remember all those parades of soldiers, tanks and missiles passing through Red Square?
The holiday remains in Russia today and, in a sign of its growing strength and confidence, the May Day military parades through Red Square were re-introduced in May 2008.
Victory Day – May 9th
Millions of Russians were killed during the second world war, and it is therefore not surprising that the surrender of Nazi Germany on May 9th is celebrated with a public holiday.
The holiday is also celebrated throughout much of the former Soviet Union and also by several countries in Eastern Europe. A few former Soviet states, however, have abolished the holiday, notably Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, who choose to celebrate on May 8th instead.
Military parades are usually held in Moscow and other cities to commemorate those who fought and died in the conflict.
Russia Day – June 12th
Russia’s second newest public holiday has yet to find a place in the hearts of many Russians, but it is nonetheless welcomed as a day off in early summer. First held on June 12th 1991, it was initially named ‘Independence Day’, then renamed in 1994 to ‘Day of the adoption of the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Russian Federation’. Wisely, the Russian Government saw sense in 2002, and renamed it to the much more memorable ‘Russia Day’.
Regardless of its name, Russia Day marks the day on which the Russian parliament declared their sovereignty over the Russian territory of the USSR.
Unity Day – November 4th
Russia’s newest holiday has only been in existence in the modern era since 2005, although it was also celebrated in the Russian Empire until 1917.
It marks the end of the Russian Time of Troubles, in which large parts of Russia were occupied by foreign powers, notably the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The holiday replaces the Soviet Era October Revolution Day which was held on November 7th.