08:25Unity Day in Russia
Unity Day calls for tolerance between various ethnic and religious groups in the Russian Federation. However, the holiday’s purpose can at times be misunderstood. Ultranationalists may organize demonstrations on this day, and many others see it as a day off.
Is Unity Day a Public Holiday?
Unity Day is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.
What Do People Do?
Russians may celebrate Unity Day in many ways. Some may lay flowers to the monuments of national heroes, Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky, who led a popular uprising that freed Moscow from occupation forces on November 4, 1612.
Russian Orthodox Christians may attend a church service to honor Our Lady of Kazan, one of the most important Russian Orthodox icons. November 4 is this icon’s feast day. The church service usually ends with a procession. Many politicians, public and religious figures stress in televised addresses the need for unity of all ethnic and religious groups in the Russian Federation. Concerts and exhibitions take place on this day.
However, for many Russians, November 4 is just another day off or a substitute for a holiday that was held on November 7 in the Soviet times. Yet others may see it as a call for unity of ethnic Russians against non-Russians. Some ultranationalists and neo-Nazis may have demonstrations on this day.
November 4 is a public holiday in the Russian Federation. Schools, post offices, public buildings and most businesses are closed on this day. Public transport schedules may vary due to religious processions and political demonstrations. If November 4 falls on a weekend, the public holiday usually moves to the following Monday.
Unity Day commemorates a Russian popular uprising that freed Moscow from Polish-Lithuanian occupation forces on November 4, 1612. Leaders of the uprising, Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky, became national heroes. In 1649, Russian Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich made November 4 (October 22 of the then used Julian calendar) a public holiday. Many Russians celebrated this day until 1917. In 1918, the Bolsheviks replaced it with a new holiday, November 7, to commemorate the Revolution of 1917. November 4 once again became a public holiday in 2005, when the Russian Parliament removed November 7 from the list of official public holidays and introduced Unity Day.
Monuments dedicated to Minin and Pozharsky, Our Lady of Kazan icon and the Russian flag are the most common symbols of Unity Day in Russia.
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