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Russian Orthodox CalendarPeople all over the world have relied on calendars for thousands of years. The Russian orthodox calendar has a very interesting history. The first Julian calendar was printed in Russia in 1709. Up to the end of the 15th century, the Russian year began on March 1. However, the Moscow government initiated a change that changed the official start of the year to September 1. This change lasted until 1700 A.D. at which point Peter the Great changed the date of the new year to January 1.
Russian CalendarThe Russian calendar has undergone many changes since its inception. In 1923, Russia stopped using the Julian calendar initiated by the Russian Orthodox Church as well as the Gregorian calendar adopted by Lenin. The new calendar changed all existing weeks and replaced religious feasts and holy days with 5 national public holidays associated with the Revolution. From 1931-1940, the Russian calendar had only six-day weeks. However, since 1940, the country has been using the Gregorian calendar with 7-day weeks.
Orthodox CalendarThe Orthodox calendar features many religious events including feast and fast days. It revolves around Easter which is considered the most important of all feast days. The “twelve great feasts” are also very important, and they feature 3 feasts devoted to Christ and 4 to the Virgin Mary. The four main fast periods include Lent or the Great Feast, the Fast of the Apostles which lasts 1-6 weeks, the Fast of the Repose of the Virgin Mary and the long Christmas Feast which lasts from November 15 to December 24.
Orthodox HolidaysOrthodox holidays include events such as Christmas, Lent, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter or Paskha, Ascension, Pentecost and All Saints Day. Because religion plays such an important part of the Orthodox faith, most of the holidays are based on religious celebrations.
Russian FestivalsA Russian festival occurs nearly every month of the year. Festivals are often unique and enjoyable. One of the main Russian festivals is a week-long event called Maslenitsa - the equivalent of a Russian Mardi Gras. The event usually features traveling choirs dressed in traditional costumes and various folk games including tug-of-war, stilt-walking and pillow-fighting. A traditional game involves men climbing a 40-50 foot wooden pole in only their underwear! Another highlight involves participants attempting to climb a 7-8 foot snow fort while a group of defenders try to stop them. Snowball fights are very common throughout the event.
Russian HolidaysRussian holidays represent an eclectic mix of religious and secular occasions. The Russian New Year is the most celebrated holiday, but many Russians also celebrate Mayday or Spring and Labour Day. Men celebrate the Soviet Army Day on February 23, whereas women celebrate Women’s Day on March 8. The country also celebrates Victory Day on May 9. This sacred holiday pays homage to the fallen Russian soldiers who died in World War II. June 12 is called Russia Day or Independence Day; this event is considered to be the country’s official national holiday.
Russian New YearMost Russians consider New Year’s their favorite holiday. Traditions are very similar to North American festivities. The Russian New Year usually consists of decorating trees and hiding presents beneath them, shooting off fireworks and cooking meals consisting of meat and potato dishes. The most important part of the event is celebrating the company of treasured friends and family. Instead of Father Christmas, Russians welcome the arrival of Father Frost and his granddaughter, Snegurochka. Father Frost wears blue instead of red and threatens to freeze bad children instead of leaving them lumps of coal.
Russian Orthodox Calendar 2007In addition to the Russian New Year, many other events are celebrated throughout the year. The following are some important events in the Russian Orthodox Calendar 2007:
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