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Holidays in Russia

There are quite a few official holidays in Russia, all of which are usually moved to the nearest Monday or Friday, so people can enjoy a longer weekend.

The two biggest holidays are New Year (January 1st) and Victory Day (May 9th), both of which are celebrated with fireworks, heavy drinking, and official parties. New Year is the Russian equivalent to western Christmas. A tree is lighted and children receive presents from Father Frost, the Russian equivalent to Santa Claus. Victory Day is a much respected holiday that conmmemorates the Nazi defeat at the hands of the Russian army. Over 20 million Russians died in WWII and the memory is still alive in the new generations.

Many Russians also celebrate Old New Year on January 13th. A reminder of the old Julian calendar, the tradition has been kept alive by the older generations. Candles are lighted on this night and wishes are made for a year of prosperity and abundance.

Women's Day, celebrated on March 8th, is also an official holiday, where tradition establishes that women should get small presents from men (such as flowers and chocolates) from men. February 23rd is Homeland Defender's Day. Traditionally a homage to army soldiers, it has recently become a non-official holiday for all men.

There are many other holidays throughout the year, including April Fool's Day (known as "The Day is Laugh" in Russia), Labor Day (May 1st), Independence Day (June 12th), Day of October Revolution (November 7th), and Constitution Day (December 12th). Many western holidays, such as Valentine's Day and Halloween are now celebrated among young people.


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