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Russia's Newest Holiday, National Unity Day

29. October 2009 by Christy 0 Comments

A controversial new Russian holiday was created only a few years ago in 2005. National Unity Day, also called People’s Unity Day, is celebrated on November 4th. There are several historical events surrounding this date, but some Russian citizens wonder about its true meaning and necessity, and choose to protest rather than celebrate.


It was in November of 1612 that Russian heroes Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky led Russian troops to victory by evicting Polish invaders from Moscow and ending the Time of Troubles. During this period of Russian history, there was no tsar or patriarch to guide the people. The remarkable way that all classes of Russian society worked together and fought the invasion was the basis for the name of the holiday.


There is also another significance to the date of November 4th in Russian history. It was this day in the year 1721 that the St. Petersburg Senate voted to grant Peter the Great the status of “Father of the Nation and the Emperor”, effectively creating the Russian Empire.


This new holiday replaced a November 7th holiday known during the communist era as the Day of the Great October Socialist Revolution, which honored the 1917 Bolshevik revolution and which was renamed Accord and Reconciliation Day after the fall of the Soviet Union. Many communists boycott the new November 4th holiday and still demonstrate and protest on November 7th.


Since Unity Day is only a few years young, not many Russians fully celebrate it. A movie titled 1612 was made in 2007 to raise awareness about the new holiday and explain the history behind it. The film is based on the historical events but does feature fantasy elements such as unicorns. Despite the promotional efforts, the average Russian citizen still does not understand why this new holiday was created, although I’m sure they enjoy the day off from work.