Russia Holidays, Events, Climate and Sightseeing

Holidays, events and national customs

Holidays in Russia

Date Holiday
1./2. January New year celebration
January 7 Russian Orthodox Christmas
8th of March Womens day
1./2. May Days of labor
May 9 Victory Day (World War 2)
June 12 independence Day
November 7 Anniversary of the October Revolution,today: Day of Understanding and Reconciliation
12th of December Constitution Day

Source: Countryaah – Russia Holidays

What is noticeable about the Russian public holidays is that the older public holidays traditionally fall in winter or summer and the younger holidays tend to be independent of the seasons.

The New Year festival in Russia is celebrated from December 31st to January 1st. The festival is traditionally celebrated with relatives and friends over a festive meal and drinks with sparkling wine. The traditional festival includes a decorated Christmas tree (jëlka) and a gift for the children, where the presents from Father Frost (ded moróz) and the snow maiden ( snegúro ? ka).

International Women ‘s Day is celebrated like Mother’s Day in Russia on March 8. On the occasion, women, mothers and colleagues are presented with a bouquet of snowdrops or mimosas and often with a cake. If possible, the family goes out to eat, otherwise the family cooks for and pampers the mothers. This day was introduced under communist rule in the former Soviet Union and is still very popular.

The Labor Day – or rather the day of work, May 1 and 2, were in the former Soviet Union days of parades and demonstrations. At the political level, homage was paid to the powerful fatherland and its statesmen, while the civilian population celebrated Labor Day mainly as a non-political spring festival.

There is no other holiday in Russia that is more patriotic than May 9, Victory Day. The end of the Second World War is still celebrated with marches by, war veterans decorated with medals, official delegations, wreath-laying at memorials, honors and speeches – the victory over Nazi Germany and its manifestation in the signing of the document of surrender on May 9, 1945.

The Independence Day is a young holiday. It commemorates Russia’s detachment from the Soviet Union in 1991. On this day, depending on the municipality, you can take part in a summer festival with fireworks or in political demonstrations for or against the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The anniversary of the October Revolution was celebrated on November 7th after the calendar reform of 1918 in Soviet Russia. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, this day has been celebrated as the day of understanding and reconciliation. Various politically motivated events, parades and demonstrations take place in Russia on this day off.

The Constitution Day is celebrated every year on 12 December.

Other public holidays are regional memorial days in the various parts of the country and in many cities, (harvest) festivals from the agricultural year, festive days for many professional groups and the start of school on September 1st.

Cultural events in Russia

Cultural festivals in Russia are mostly of an ecclesiastical and religious nature. Many festivals were forbidden during the Soviet era and are now integrated into everyday life as public holidays. The Orthodox Church of Russia still follows the Julian calendar, so its festivals are 13 days behind those of the Catholic and Protestant churches. (The rest of Russia implemented the calendar reform in 1918.) The twelve major feast days of the Orthodox Church include:

  • Christmas Eve (January 6th)
  • Christmas party (January 7th)
  • Feast of Epiphany (January 19)
  • Butter week (at the same time as carnival)
  • Great Lent (7 weeks)
  • Easter
  • Annunciation (April 7th)
  • Ascension Day (40 days after Easter)
  • Pentecost (50 days after Easter)
  • At the Epiphany feast on January 19, the baptism of Christ in the Jordan will be commemorated. On this day, believers bring water to the church to be consecrated by dipping a cross. Elsewhere, lakes and rivers are also consecrated so that believers can wash away their sins by bathing in the consecrated ice water. This festival also gave rise to worldly, sporty ice-hole swimming.
  • In the past, in the butter week, similar to the carnival time in some Catholic countries, you could indulge in physical pleasures. Today this aspect has changed somewhat: The weeks are an occasion for thorough celebrations and the eating of baked delicacies before the start of Lent.
  • Easteris celebrated as the largest religious festival in Russia. On Good Friday, the food and colored eggs brought along are blessed in the church. In Christianity, the eggs symbolize the resurrection of Christ and, like the other consecrated foods, are distorted at the Easter meal, which follows the nightly service, together with fatty, meaty and alcoholic delights. At the Easter meal, traditional Easter dishes such as a round yeast cake and a pyramid-like, high-piled dish made of quark, sugar and raisins, which are often decorated with a cross and the Cyrillic letter XB, the first letter of the resurrection, can be found. The night service ends with a three-time procession around the church. The believers greet each other with the cry “Christ is risen!” (Christós voskrése!) and the answer “He is truly risen!” (Vo ístinu voskrése!).

National customs in Russia

During the Soviet era, social traditions were introduced instead of ecclesiastical ones for the great milestones of human existence such as birth, marriage and death. The marriage in particular was celebrated in a so-called “wedding palace” with a bride dressed in white and solemn speeches. It is still not uncommon for newlyweds to be in Moscow todayafter the official act, lay flowers at the Eternal Flame at the tomb of the unknown soldier and have yourself photographed on the viewing platform on the “Sparrow Hills” (formerly Lenin Hills) above the city. The cars of newlyweds are often decorated with a doll symbolizing the blessing of children. However, there has been a noticeable increase in attention to church traditions in recent years: children are baptized by immersing themselves in the baptismal font, marriages are carried out in church at the request of many bridal couples and funerals are again more often celebrated in church.

Russians are famous for their sociability and vodka. There are enough occasions; But there are also certain rules of conduct that are used depending on where you are. In addition to official memorial days and celebrations, people at work also celebrate the promotion, birthday, wedding day (even when the wife is absent) and the start or end of a business trip. In addition to coffee, cake, bread, onions, cucumber and cheese, drinks such as beer, vodka, sweet wines and sparkling wine are also served at these gatherings. Papirósy with a paper mouthpiece or cigarettes are often smoked. In the winter, people move from office to office, from apartment to apartment at such rather informal celebrations. In summer, such festivals are moved to the public parks,

Last but not least, the plentiful enjoyment of vodka is reflected in the Russian streetscape. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism have been traditional problems in Russia for centuries. It is an integral part and a (relatively) accepted vice of Russian society, although anti-alcohol campaigns also repeatedly seek to change Russian drinking habits.

Climate in Russia

Russia stretches across almost all climatic zones (except the tropics), but it largely belongs to the temperate climatic zone and is shaped by continental influences. Since it extends over several climatic zones, three regions are “climatic” exceptions:

  • the Black Sea coast with a subtropical climate
  • Northern Siberia with an arctic climate
  • and the south of the Far East

The predominantly dry continental climate of Russia is characterized on the one hand by cold and very cold winters and on the other hand by warm to hot summers. There are large seasonal fluctuations in northern and central Russia. The seasons spring and autumn are cooler here than in Central Europe. Visitors should prepare for a strictly polar climate in the far north and a (relatively) mild climate on the Baltic coast. The city of Verkhoyansk, located near the cold poles of the northern hemisphere, has temperatures as low as -50 °C in January.

Southern Russia is characterized by shorter winters than in the north of the country. In the steppes in the southeast, the hot, dry summers (average values of 25 °C) are replaced by very cold winters. In contrast, the winters in the northern and northeastern Black Sea region are mild with high levels of precipitation. A rainy time awaits visitors here.

Siberia offers very cold winters (average temperature in January -21 °C) and pleasant, short summers (average temperature in July 15.5 °C) with lots of rainfall. Here, too, the spring and autumn seasons are significantly cooler than in Central Europe.

Travel times to Russia

Russia is one of those countries for which there is no guarantee of fair weather at any time of the year. However, most summer days can be expected from May to September. The thermometer can sometimes climb to 32 °C in the summer month of July. The months of June and July in particular are ideal for trips to the European cities of Saint Petersburg and Moscow as well as to Karelia (average temperatures in July 17 °C and 18 °C, respectively). (In winter you cannot visit Karelia and its islands because the waterways are icy.)

Spring and autumn in Russia are sometimes characterized by heavy rains. It is advisable to have suitable shoes with you, as roads often turn into almost inaccessible mud rivers during this time. Often only wooden panels keep the street accessible. With a little luck, the Russian autumn can turn into a sunny, golden autumn, as was once sung about by Pushkin. However, at this time of the year you can clearly see that the days are getting shorter and shorter. In November and December, darkness begins at 4 p.m.

You can experience the notorious Russian winter in January and February at the latest with temperatures of -20 °C. The country is then under a blanket of ice and snow, whereby often only the Russian churches with their colorful facades stand out from the white landscape. The icy temperatures shaped Russian culture over the centuries. The high minus degrees were used for hobbies such as ice fishing and ice bathing. Warm clothing and lined winter boots are essential items during these months.

The best time to travel to the Russian Federation for people who do not enjoy severe frost are the summer months of May to September.

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