Russian holidays are usually divided on national, state, professional and other holidays. The national celebrations, as a rule, have some special historical meaning. State holidays are dedicated to the events that have a social-political significance, and are held traditionally. Professional and other holidays usually are celebrated by separate categories of people.
There are about nine official holidays in Russian Federation, but only three of them are really popular, widely celebrated and absolutely loved by the population. They are: the New Year, 8 March, and the holy Easter. Russian women wait and thoroughly prepare for each of these holidays, when they can give presents and receive gifts from all of the close people and friends.
The New Year is the biggest and greatest holiday for the whole post-Soviet region.
It’s considered to be one of the most bright and festive holidays of the year. People start getting ready for the celebrations at the beginning of December, while in cities bright lights and fur-trees begin to appear, creating the Christmas atmosphere and good mood. It is a time for great joy for family and friends and for discounts in shops, but yet hardly anyone thinks about its history.
The New Year holiday appeared in the ancient period. Originally, it wasn’t celebrated in December, and in different countries New Year was held in different times. But one thing all the states had in common was that almost everywhere the New Year began in spring, symbolizing the rebirth of nature. In Russia, from 10th to 15th century the New Year began on the 1st of March. Only later, in 1699, Peter the First has proclaimed that the New Year would start on 1st of January. During this time, the Russian tradition of decorating fur-trees and wishing happiness and well-being began. Nevertheless, Peter the First said that the celebrations should be without alcohol and totally dedicated to children.
The main reason for starting the new year in March was because that was how things have been done since creation. At the end of 15th century, the Orthodox Church designated the 1st of September as the new year and the last time when it was celebrated on this date was in 1698, although there still exist some places, where according to the Orthodox Church, the 1st of September is the beginning of the new year, and the 1st of January is just a civil holiday.
Peter the First’s goal in changing the date of the new year to the 1st of January was to align the Russian calendar with those of the countries in Europe. Right after the original New Year there comes another celebration for the CIS people, called the Old New Year, which takes place on night from 13th to 14th of January. Even here, in CIS, many people don’t know the real reason why they still celebrate the Old New Year. They just do it because of the tradition and because there is a common belief that on this day you’ve got to say good bye to the year that has passed, and try to remember your lucks in unlucks, preparing to live the new year that you already welcomed in the best way you can. However, the real reason why people celebrate it is because very long ago, the Orthodox Church has refused to accept the new style calendar based on Julian calendar.
Another holiday celebrated in Russia, Ukraine and all the neighbouring CIS countries is March 8th. It’s an important holiday because it is dedicated to ladies! On the Former Soviet Union territory the 8th of March is considered to be an International Women’s Day. Here, people devote this holiday to the whole female population of the world. Annually, this bright date involves everyone and keeps everybody busy in the country of Russia! On this day the Russian brides feel themselves as the queens, accepting greetings and gifts from their fathers, brothers, nephews, boyfriends and husbands. And all the men are also very happy on this day, because it’s a real chance for them to show all their care and love to ladies.
Historically, this holiday is a day of women’s solidarity in the battle for economic, social and political equal rights. The decision on annual celebration of International Women’s day in every country of the world was accepted in 1910 on the International conference of female socialists in Copenhagen. First of all, it was provided in the row of European countries in 1911 and then, in 1913 in Russia. Nevertheless, the tradition of celebrating this event was only kept in the Soviet Union and still is widely celebrated in this area.
On the 8th of March guys give flowers to all the women they know. What kind of presents they usually make depends on how much close the woman is for them. Traditionally, they give tulips for ladies, so as it symbolizes the beginning of spring, something new and vivid. When talking about their sweethearts, men try to be as much generous as possible, because every lady wants to feel herself very special on this day that is especially dedicated to her.
Another warm, bright and joyful holiday celebrated here is the Easter. This lovely and delightful holiday of the ancient religious tradition is usually held in April or May. Everybody colour eggs, bake Easter cakes and congratulate each other at this time, saying: “Christ has arisen!”. On Easter people usually visit their relatives, friends, neighbours and treat one another with beautifully painted eggs, lush baking and pastry.
An interesting “holiday fact” has been recently published by a local organization called “Freedom Foundation”. The most popular holiday in Ukraine is the New Year – 92) as by women (64, then goes Orthodox Christmas (held on the 7th of January ) – 58.
Other holidays that are also really loved here, came from the European culture – they are the Saint Valentine’s Day and Halloween. Those two are considered to be as fashionable and widely spread among the younger generations, so as entered this culture not so long ago.