Holidays in Russia

Below is the list of Russian national and other popular holidays. In addition, you will find brief descriptions of holidays, pronunciation of their Russian names, and a few useful holiday greetings in Russian. If you'd like to know how to congratulate people on different occasions, please take a look at our lesson on Congratulations and wishes.

Russian National Holidays

Official public holidays are considered to be the days off from work. Government offices and many businesses are closed on these dates. If the date of observance falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday will be a day off.

 Date  Name of holiday in Russian  English Translation
January 1-5 Новый Год New Year
January 7th         Рождество   Christmas
February 23rd День защитника Отечества      Defender of the Motherland Day
March 8th Восьмое марта International Women’s Day
May 1st Первое мая May Day
May 9th День Победы Victory Day
June 12th День России Russia Day
November 4th День народного единства National Unity Day

Other Popular Holidays

In addition to national holidays, there are several popular holidays which are not official public holidays. Unless the date of such holidays falls on a weekend, it is considered a work day.

 Date        Name of holiday in Russian      English Translation
January 14 Старый Новый Год       Old New Year
January 25 Татьянин день Tatiana Day
February 14 День Святого Валентина St.Valentine's Day
(on Sunday) Православная Пасха Orthodox Easter
April 12 День Космонавтики Cosmonautics Day
(the last week
before Great Lent)
Масленица Maslenitsa

Description of Holidays

New Year / Новый Год  [noh-viy goht]
The most popular holiday in Russia.

Christmas / Рождество  [rahzh-dees-tvoh]
Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated two weeks later than in Catholic countries.

Defender of the Motherland Day / День Защитника Отечества  [dyehn zah-scheet-nee-kah ah-tyeh-chees-tvah]
It is the day of all men. Originally Soviet Army Day.

International Women’s Day / Восьмое Марта  [vahs'-moh-yeh mahr-tah]
It is the day of all women: mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, wives and girlfriends. Originally International Women's Day. This holiday is also know as "Международный Женский День".

May Day / Первое Мая  [pyeh-vuh-yeh mah-yah]
Originally the Day of International Solidarity of Workers, it became just a holiday of Spring and Labour.

Victory Day / День Победы  [dyehn' pah-byeh di]
This spring day went down in the chronicle of the USSR as the end of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), the most dramatic war in Russian history.

Russia Day / День России  [dyehn' rah-see-ee]
Russia's newest holiday, which commemorates the adoption in 1991 of the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Russian Federation.

National Unity Day / День народного единства  [dyehn' nah-rohd-nah-vah yeh-deen-stvah]
This holiday commemorates the liberation of Moscow from Polish occupation in 1612 as a result of the uprising led by Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky. In a broader sense, the day signifies the end of the time of foreign intervention in Russia. It is celebrated in place of the former Revolution Day.

Old New Year / Старый Новый Год  [stah-riy noh-viy goht]
This popular holiday corresponds to January 1 in the Julian calendar, used in Russia before 1918.

St.Valentine's Day / День Святого Валентина  [dyehn' svee-toh-vah vah-leen-tee-nah ]
Recently borrowed but very popular holiday of lovers and friends.

Orthodox Easter / Православаная Пасха  [prah-vah-slav-nah-yah pahs-khah]
Easter is a very popular holiday in Russia in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus. Easter has no fixed date. It is held on the first Sunday after the date of the first full moon that occurs on or after March 21. In 2004, it was on the 11th of April.

Holiday Greetings

Поздравляю с ...          
 [paz-drav-lya-yoo s]
[I] congratulate [you] with …
Поздравляю с Новым годом!
 [paz-drav-lya-yoo s noh-vim goh-dam]
Happy New Year! (literally: Congratulate with New Year)
Поздравляю с Рождеством!
 [paz-drav-lya-yoo s razh-dyehs-tvohm]
Merry Christmas! (Literally: Congratulate with Christmas)

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