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It's a Holiday Time of the Year ... Or Is It

And a happy holiday to you. Go to the dacha, sleep in, get drunk, be happy. What holiday is it? It's a Friday -- that's all most Russians can tell you.

In the last 15 years, Russia has acquired some new holidays, such as Constitution Day, on Dec. 12, and another day, June 12, which is sometimes known as Independence Day, which begs the question: Independence from what? Hard to say. But now November offers a possible answer. It must be independence from Poland that we never tire of celebrating.

Once upon a time, we celebrated the anniversary of Great October, the 1917 Bolshevik coup that established the state later known as the Soviet Union. Great October was celebrated in November, but this stemmed from the gap between the Julian and the Gregorian calendars.

In 1991, communist rule and the Soviet Union collapsed, but Russia kept celebrating Great October for a number of years. The Communist Party, naturally, used the day to rally its troops. Finally, Boris Yeltsin renamed the holiday, calling it the Day of Accord and Reconciliation. The idea was that it would stop being a day of confrontation and would come to symbolize Russia's coming to terms with its bloody and shameful past.

This was one of the very, very few things that the Yeltsin government ever did to help Russia come to terms with its past. Unsurprisingly, it was not successful. Communists and other left-wingers continued to rally, and the rest of us continued to try to ignore them.

Last year, President Vladimir Putin's administration took up the problem of the November holiday. Literal-minded as these people can sometimes be, that is precisely how they seemed to conceptualize the issue: There was a November holiday that was wrong, and they needed a November holiday that was right. So they looked for something that happened in November. Unfortunately, the year comprises 12 months, and the great milestones of Russian history are more or less evenly spread throughout the year, so the pickings for November were slim.

They found Nov. 4, the day the Poles were kicked out of the Kremlin. Or not. The events of the period resisted simple demarcation, and continue to do so today. Let's put it this way: How many people know what they are celebrating, or what really happened on Nov. 4, 1612?

Source: The Moscow Times

Disclaimer - The contents of my news section are taken from Russian sources and are included here for information purposes only. By including this information I hope to give readers an insight into Russian life. I am in no way endorsing, agreeing or supporting any views contained within.


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