Did you know that Russia is one of the record-holder countries for the number of national holidays per year? In the past few years, June 12th has become an occasion for national pride as Russians commemorate Russia Day from Moscow to Siberia to the final destination of the Trans-Siberian Railway, Vladivostok. But what are the roots of this remarkable holiday and what exactly do people celebrate?
Russia Day is a comparatively ‘young’ holiday which officially appeared only in 1992. The history of this date goes back to 1990, when the process of Russia gaining independence started. On June 12th, 1990, the First Congress of People's Deputies of the RSFSR adopted the Declaration on the State Sovereignty, which marked the beginning of constitutional reform in Russia.
The Declaration proclaimed the intention to establish a democratic constitutional state and the supremacy of the Russian Constitution and its laws. Moreover, it affirmed equal legal rights for all citizens, political parties and public organizations as well as the principle of separation of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of power.
Exactly one year later another event of great importance happened. It was on June 12th, 1991 when, in addition to independence, Russia also acquired the first President in its history.
As a result of the first nationwide open presidential elections, Boris Yeltsin came into power.
Furthermore, in 1991 one more important step in the strengthening of Russian statehood was made - a new name for the country was adopted. Since that time, the country is officially named the Russian Federation or Russia.
In 1992, the Supreme Soviet of Russia proclaimed June 12th as a national holiday as a reminder of the Declaration which set into motion the process of democratization of the state.
On June 2nd, 1994 the President signed a decree, giving the state significance of the day June 12th, and the holiday itself was called the Day of Adoption of the Declaration of Independence of RSFSR.
Interesting fact is that this name remained till 2002. Only after the Russian Parliament adopted a new version of Russia's Labor Code, the holiday was renamed into Russia Day.
How to celebrate Russia Day
So, enough history. Now, let’s talk about the process of the celebration itself. If you plan to visit Russia in June, you may join the celebration and feel the spirit of patriotism that Russians have for their country.
On this day, lots of public festive events take place across the country. The holiday traditionally symbolizes the historical and cultural unity between the peoples of Russia.
Citizens of all ages go out on the streets to participate in various games, quests and activities, to see musicians playing on concerts and to admire beautiful fireworks at night. The main celebrations, of course, take place in Moscow, on the Red Square and end with a gorgeous salute which is also televised.
For a traveler, it’s a great chance to visit free exhibitions in parks and museums or to witness theatre performances which can help to understand the culture, religions and traditions of different nationalities of the country better.
Recently, thematic festivals have also gained popularity in Russia. Such events help to remind people of the significant events in history. Some zones are dedicated to the reign of Peter the Great, others to the ancient times and formation of Russia, some to Soviet times and so on. In any case, it’s a great spectacle, definitely worth seeing!
Traditionally, Russia Day is also used as a day to thank prominent people who have made significant accomplishments during the year. The solemn ceremony takes place in the Kremlin, where the President of Russia presents the State Prizes to artists, scientists, activists and creators.
What is more, an impressive number of Russian cities have double celebrations on June 12th. The thing is that such cities as Kemerovo, Perm, Veliky Novgorod, Krasnoyarsk and Tambov celebrate their own "birthdays" or city days. In such a way the authorities and residents of these cities emphasize the significance of Russia Day, which marked a new page in the history of the country.
Being the biggest country in the world, Russia is used to celebrating its holidays on a large scale. In the past years, Russia Day has spread overseas, which is connected with the desire to introduce Russian customs and traditions abroad.
For instance, in 2014, for the first time, three Georgian cities - Tbilisi, Batumi and Rustavi joined the celebration of Russia Day. Some festive events passed near the capital of Armenia as well, where Russian pilots demonstrated a fantastic air show, dedicated to the holiday.
In 2015 an annual project “Russia Day in the World” was established. That year the celebration of Russia Day involved 5 countries spread over 4 continents: the USA, China, Israel, France and Brazil, a year later: Great Britain, France, Austria, Israel, China and Belarus.
In 2017 within the project, three famous academic group from Russia performed on the stages of the most prestigious halls in Jerusalem, Geneva and Munich.
The year 2018 won’t be an exception. Russia Day will be celebrated in Israel and some European countries.
Nowadays, Russia Day increasingly gains patriotic character and becomes a symbol of national unity and common responsibility for the present and future of the motherland. It is a holiday of freedom and peace, which celebrates the establishment of Russia as an independent and prosperous state.