Shops festively decorated and playing Christmas songs, shoppers hectically buying Christmas presents, families showing off their Christmas trees in their house windows here in Britain… In Russia a Christmas tree is called something different, and the Russian word for Christmas doesn't originate from Christ. Because the Russian for Christmas – Рождество – stems from “birth” and the tree is called a New Year tree. In fact, Russian Christmas follows New Year’s Day and is celebrated on 7th January. So the fur tree is a New Year tree because New Year comes first in the calendar and in importance and so do New Year presents.
All this is because the Russian Orthodox Church didn't switch to the Gregorian calendar like most other religious denominations, and still follows the older, Julian calendar. And this pretty much explains why the winter holiday season in Russia starts later, to be precise, in 2016 it begins on 1st January, the New Year’s Day, and ends on 10th January. Trying to get in touch with a Russian office in early January? Bear in mind this 10 day long holiday break.
Other public holidays in 2016 include:
Tuesday, 23rd February, - the Defender of the Fatherland Day. Saturday, 20th February, will be a working day to make Monday, 22nd February, a day off.
Tuesday, 8th March, - International Women’s Day. Monday, 7th March, isn't a working day either (to compensate for January 3rd which fell on a Sunday).
Sunday, 1st May, - Russian Orthodox Easter and May Day. The mini break will also cover Monday, 2nd May (as the actual May Day falls on a Sunday), and Tuesday, 3rd May (in lieu of 2nd January which was a Saturday).
Monday, 9th May, is Victory Day.
Sunday, 12th June is Russia Day. Monday, 13th June, is a day off too to compensate for the preceding Sunday.
Friday, 4th November, is Unity Day.
And this completes the current guide to public holidays in Russia, a series I have been running since 2011. If you require any further assistance with Russian cultural awareness, please feel free to get in touch via our Contact page. And don’t forget to like our Facebook page where we regularly publish details of UK events focused on trading with Russia, Russian culture and much more!
[Tip: If there is a specific holiday you would like to know the history of, contact us on 0207 043 6940 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.]