Public Holidays in Russia

Public Holidays in Russia 2020

Name of Holiday Date Days Off Work
New Year December 31 January 01-January 08
Orthodox Christmas January 07  
Defenders of the Fatherland Day February 23 February 22-February 24
International Women's Day March 08 March 07-March 09
Spring and Labor Day May 01 May 01-May 05
Victory Day May 09 May 09–May 11
Russia Day June 12 June 12-June 14
Unity Day November 04  

Public Holidays in Russia 2021

Name of Holiday Date Days Off Work
New Year December 31 January 01-January 08
Orthodox Christmas January 07  
Defenders of the Fatherland Day February 23  
International Women's Day March 08  
Spring and Labor Day May 01 May 01-May 03
Victory Day May 09 May 09–May 10
Russia Day June 12 June 12-June 14
Unity Day November 04  

Russians have always known how to fight and celebrate well, and Russian holidays and traditions are bright, spectacular and crowded events. Russian people celebrate global holidays, such as New Year and Valentine's Day, as well as traditionally Russian observances such as Maslenitsa, a day of bidding farewell to winter.

Many people love the so-called "May Holidays" of Labor Day and Victory Day which are celebrated jointly in early May. As both events are public holidays in Russia, people get a mini vacation at this time which many use to travel or go on day trips called mayevka. As snow often doesn’t melt in Russia until early May, mayevka has historically been associated with the arrival of spring. People traditionally head outdoors, have picnics and grill kebabs, often in city parks. The dacha (summer house) season also begins in May and is a special time for many people.

Although official holidays in Russia have fixed dates, if the holiday falls on a Sunday, the government will often add another day off at the beginning of the work week.

New Year: December 31 - January 01

New Year is the most beloved holiday, not only in Russia but in most countries of the former USSR. The Russians believe that the manner in which you ring in the New Year will determine the course of the entire year to come, and thus it is customary to wear new and beautiful clothing on New Year’s Eve and to spend the evening with family and friends around a lavish feast. Just before the stroke of midnight, millions of families across Russia await a New Year speech from the president and the striking of the clock on Red Square, for it is believed that the clock’s chimes will usher in the coming year.

Decorated Christmas trees and a visit by Santa Claus and his helper Snow Maiden are integral components of the Russian New Year, and celebrating New Year's Eve on Red Square in Moscow is a special life experience. Russians typically rest for about a week over the New Year holiday.

Orthodox Christmas: January 07

Unlike Catholics and Protestants, Orthodox adherents celebrate “Russian Christmas” on January 7th to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ from the Virgin Mary. During the days leading up to Christmas, some devout believers fast from meat. On the night of January 6th, many people enjoy a multi-course vegetarian meal in the evening and attend a special church service at night. Christmas Day is traditionally spent with family and is filled with gift-giving, songs and a lavish feast of special meat dishes and sweets.

Epiphany: January 19

This is a Christian holiday in honor of the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River. Perhaps the most interesting tradition associated with this holiday in Russia is the baptismal bathing: An opening in the shape of a cross is cut from the ice of frozen reservoirs and rivers so that people may plunge into the chilly waters beneath. It is believed that the water has purifying properties on this day and will bring you closer to God. However, swimming in the frigid water without prior preparation is not recommended.

Tatiana Day: January 25

Many Orthodox holidays are largely secular in nature, and Tatiana Day, also known as Students’ Day, is no exception. Originally a day of memory for Christian martyr Tatiana Rimsky, Empress Elizaveta Petrovna signed a decree for the establishment of Moscow University on this same day in 1755, and the holiday became dedicated to Russian university students. In 2005 this designation was officially approved, and today students across the country celebrate the day in style, with parks and cafes typically filled with noisy groups of young people.

Valentine’s Day: February 14

Although this day was originally a religious holiday from Europe, Valentine’s Day is now a popular day for lovers. Chocolates and flowers are the most common gifts, as well as heart-shaped presents and cards.

Defenders of the Fatherland Day: February 23

This holiday is popular not only in Russia but across the post-Soviet world, for it honors the men (and some women) who served in the Soviet and Russian armies. Since military service is mandatory for most men in Russia, Defenders of the Fatherland Day is often colloquially known as Men’s Day.

International Women's Day: March 08

Like many other Russian holidays and traditions, Women’s Day has been celebrated since the USSR era and continues to be observed in many post-Soviet nations. This is a public holiday in Russia and therefore is declared an official day off of work.

Women’s Day has feminist and political roots, for it was initially a celebration of the adoption of women's rights after a speech by rights activist Clara Zetkin in 1910. However, the holiday has evolved over the years and today it is more a celebration of spring and beauty. Women are congratulated at home and on the streets, concerts and festivals are organized in parks and squares and many stores offer great discounts.

Maslenitsa: date varies

Originally a Slavic pagan holiday, Maslenitsa symbolizes the transition of winter into spring and is currently popular among the Christian population. The date changes in accordance with the Easter holiday. On this day mass festivities are organized, pancakes are eaten in abundance and a scarecrow is burned to symbolize the passing of winter.

Easter: date varies

One of the most beloved Russian Orthodox holidays, Easter is held in honor of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is considered a celebration of triumph.

Easter is calculated according to the lunisolar calendar and thus the date fluctuates, yet it always falls on a Sunday during the spring and is often one of the only Russian holidays in April. Easter, along with the concept of baptism, came to Russia from Byzantium at the end of the 10th century. Since then, this Christian holiday has been widely, beautifully and solemnly celebrated throughout Russia. On the eve of Easter, all-night vigils and a procession around the church are held at every cathedral. Traditional festive cakes that symbolize the body of Christ are baked and hardboiled eggs are painted.

Early in the morning, believers go from home to home with refreshments, giving painted eggs to friends and declaring: “Christ is risen!” “He is risen indeed!” This customary, congratulatory greeting, accompanied by hugs and kisses, is called "Christification." The holiday of Christian Easter lasts seven days and is called the Seventh or the Holy Week.

The Day of International Solidarity of Workers was an overtly political observance which was celebrated as a "Holiday of Workers" in the recent past. These days, however, the holiday has become an excellent excuse for a spring vacation both in Russia and in neighboring countries. Over the course of several consecutive weekends, citizens begin to garden, put things in order in their summer dacha houses and have picnics.

Victory Day: May 09

One of the country’s most significant holidays, Victory Day in Russia celebrates the USSR’s triumph over Nazi Germany in World War II and has been celebrated annually since 1945.

The day is commemorated by parades, fireworks and the laying of flowers at WWII monuments and the graves of those who perished in the war. An integral attribute of the holiday is the St. George ribbon, which is tied to clothes in memory of the nation’s ancestors and as a symbol of the interconnectedness of generations. The most beautiful fireworks can be seen in Moscow and other major cities.

Holy Trinity Day: date varies

Also known as “Green Christmas Time” or simply “Trinity”, this Christian holiday is celebrated on the 50th day after Easter. It is customary to decorate houses with birch twigs and flowers in honor of the occasion, and many people also go for special prayers in the churches, also adorned with fresh flowers. Afterward, the flowers are dried and placed behind the icons until the next Trinity.

Russia Day: June 12

This holiday has been celebrated annually since 1992. Previously, it was called the "Day of Adoption of the Declaration on State Sovereignty of the RSFSR” but the name was mercifully changed to “Russia Day” in 2002. Various festive events take place on the central squares of large cities, and the president bestows the honorable Russian Federation State Awards at the Kremlin.

Knowledge Day: September 01

This day marks the first day of the academic year, when students and teachers return to school. Younger children dress in nice clothing and are given flowers by their parents and teachers.

Reconciliation and Harmony Day: November 07

Observed every year since 1996, Reconciliation and Harmony Day is a spinoff of the anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution which was celebrated in the USSR on November 7 and 8. There are not many traditions associated with this holiday, which is by and large.