May Day Celebrations in Russia

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This Friday in Russia will be a day off because it is May Day which will be the start of a long holiday break for Russia. People will go back to work only on the 5th of May. The Labor Day or the International Worker’s Day became an official holiday only after the Great October Revolution (November 7, 1917).

In the times of the Tsars the 1st of May was celebrated for the first time in 1890 in Warsaw where a strike took place in which almost 10 thousand workers participated. Starting with 1897 the day started having political importance, with demonstrations and marches. That is why in Soviet times the slogan of the holiday was “Peace. Labor. May.” All the workers were obliged to take part in the marches. In the morning they would gather at their factory, plant or institution, they were given flags and posters, and then marched through  Nevskiy Prospect to Palace Square. People who didn’t participate in demonstrations could just go for a walk in the city with flags and balloons and watch the parade. It was a lot of fun! Then people visited each other having a festive meal.

Starting from 1992 the holiday is called “The day of Spring and Labor.” On the 1st of May usually different demonstrations take place. Usually political parties use this holiday to organize marches with their slogans. In 2013 more than 100 thousand people participated in the demonstrations. However most Russians try to spend May holidays in the country. This tradition started also in Soviet times when on May 2nd families usually gathered together for a barbecue or a picnic.

Nowadays most Russians own an apartment in the city and also a small country house somewhere in the countryside. In Russia such houses are called “dachas”. May holidays usually mark the start of “dacha season.”

The country houses are usually used only in the summer time from May to September. Dachas played an extremely important role in the life of Soviet people as they do today. Most people got their dachas for free from the factory where they worked or from the government. People used their dachas for gardening and growing potatoes, carrots, and cucumbers. In modern Russia most people are still fond of gardening but they do it now as a hobby or more out of habit.

However May holidays in Russia are not just the 1st of May. On the 9th of May Russians celebrate Victory Day dedicated to the victory over Nazi Germany. This year it is going to be the 70th anniversary of the Victory. For further information please follow us and find the article devoted to the Victory Day on our webpage next week!