Public holidays in Russia 2016
Here is a list of public holidays in Russia in 2016, plus school holidays and other important dates celebrated in the Russian calendar.
Every year the Russian government makes an announcement about the fixed date holidays for the coming year. Whenever a public holiday in Russia falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, the preceding Monday is usually designated as a ‘bridge’ public holiday that year, with a Saturday nearby then becoming a regular working day. If the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, an additional day off may be publically announced.
New Year holidays can also sometimes be extended until the 7 January (Russian Orthodox Christmas), while the nearest Saturday and/or Sunday may be declared working days.
Each city in Russia also has an official founding date, with celebrations, fireworks, speeches, food and drink. Moscow's City Day, for example, is usually celebrated around the first weekend of September. In 2015, there were free concerts in Lubyanskaya square with music legends Aerosmith and John Newman. In 2016 Moscow will celebrate on 31 August, while St Petersburg's City Day will be held on 27 May.
Public holidays in Russia 2016
- 1–5 January: New Year’s holidays
- 6 January: ‘Bridge’ holiday
- 7 January: Russian Orthodox Christmas Day – the Russian Orthodox Church operates by the Julian calendar, thus the 25 December corresponds to 7 January on the Gregorian calendar.
- 8 January: New Year’s holiday
- 22 February: Official public holiday for Defender of Motherland Day
- 23 February: Defender of the Motherland Day (sometimes known as Defender of the Fatherland Day) – this holiday commemorates those in the armed forces past and present, and was established in 1919 as Red Army Day, and later carried the name Soviet Army and Navy Day from 1949 to 1993.
- 7 March: Official public holiday for International Women's Day
- 8 March: International Women’s Day
- 1 May: Spring and Labour Day – once celebrated in the USSR as International Workers’ Solidarity Day, it was renamed Spring and Labour Day in 1992.
- 2 May: Official Labour Day public holiday
- 3 May: Public holiday
- 9 May: Victory Day – celebrates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in 1945, the culmination of the Great Patriotic War between 1941 and 1945; May 9 1945 was when the German Instrument of Surrender was delivered to Moscow.
- 12 June: Russia Day – the main Russian public holiday, which commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Russian Federation on 12 June 1991.
- 13 June: Official Russia Day public holiday
- 4 November: Unity Day – this is Russia’s newest public holiday, established in 2004, and celebrates the liberation of Moscow from Polish troops in 1612 and is so-called because Russians of all social classes united together to achieve this. On the same day, the Russian Orthodox Church commemorates one of the most honoured relics in Russia, the icon of Our Lady of Kazan.
- 31 December: New Year’s Eve
Other important dates
- The week before Lent, Maslenitsa (unofficial holiday), is the equivalent of Mardi Gras and celebrated around the country.
- 23 February: Russia doesn't celebrate Father's Day similar to other countries but the closest equivalent is considered to be Defender of the Fatherland Day, which has evolved to become an unofficial tribute to all men; some women and children may give small gifts.
- 12 April: Cosmonaut Day
- 1 May: Easter (unofficial holiday)
- 7 July: Ivan Kupala Day or Day of John the Baptist (unofficial holiday).
- 27 November: Mother’s Day was introduced in 1998 but many people still give gifts to their mothers on International Women’s Day in March.
- There is no daylight saving time change in Russia. There are 11 time zones across the vast country but as from October 2014, they are all permanently on ‘winter’ time.
- For a list of celebrated dates in Russia, see our guide to Russia's festivals and dates.
School holidays in Russia
State schools follow a school calendar set down by the Ministry of Education and Science, and most private schools keep to a similar schedule. The academic year runs between 1 September (when children traditionally take in flowers for the first day of school) until around the end of May, with exams in June.
Holidays usually include eight days in November, 12–15 days in December/January, eight days in March, and summer holidays mid-June to the end of August. Younger children get an additional week’s holiday in February. Contact individual schools for more information.
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