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Spring and Labor Day in Russia

Celebrations of May 1 lost their political meaning in Russia after 1991. Some political parties and labor unions may have demonstrations on this day, but most Russians use Spring and Labor Day for gardening or spending time with their families.

Is Spring and Labor Day a Public Holiday?

Spring and Labor Day is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

Wild Daffodils
Flowers are popular symbol of Spring and Labor Day .
Flowers are popular symbol of Spring and Labor Day .
©iStockphoto.com/pixonaut

What Do People Do?

Many Russians use this public holiday to relax. Some may go on a retreat to their country homes (called dachas) to work in the garden or spend time with their families. It is also common for people to have picnics or barbecues. Men may give spring flowers, especially tulips and lilacs, to women, and parents may buy balloons and ice-cream to their children to celebrate the end of the cold season in Russia.

Spring and Labor Day lost its socialist meaning after the Soviet Union’s collapse, but some political parties and labor unions may still organize demonstrations on this day. Party members and labor union activists may participate in such demonstrations.

Public Life

Spring and Labor Day is a public holiday in Russia. Most banks, public buildings and educational institutions are closed on this day. If May 1 falls on a weekend, the public holiday usually moves to the following Monday. Public transport routes may vary in the case of demonstrations in a city or town.

Background

May 1 was a symbol of class struggle in Russia for about 100 years (1890-1990). Workers held annual protests on this day from 1890 to 1917, demanding better work conditions and higher wages. In 1918, May 1 became an important public holiday, known as the Day of the International Solidarity of Workers, in the Soviet Union. Most Soviet cities had parades and obligatory workers’ marches on this day until 1990. The Russian Parliament renamed the holiday as Spring and Labor Day in 1992.

Update: In October 2012, Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree that would extend the May Day holiday from Wednesday, May 1, 2013 to Sunday, May 5, 2013.

Symbols

The most common symbols of Spring and Labor Day are:

  • Flowers, especially tulips and lilacs – symbols of late spring.
  • Blooming branches of fruit trees – a symbol of approaching summer.
  • Balloons – a symbol of celebration.

Images of flowers, tree blossoms and balloons often appear in artwork related to Spring and Labor Day in Russia.

About Spring and Labor Day in other countries

Read more about Spring and Labor Day.

Spring and Labor Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2010SatMay 1Spring and Labor DayNational holiday
2010MonMay 3Spring and Labor Day observedNational holiday
2011SunMay 1Spring and Labor DayNational holiday
2011MonMay 2Spring and Labor Day observedNational holiday
2012TueMay 1Spring and Labor DayNational holiday
2013WedMay 1Spring and Labor DayNational holiday
2014ThuMay 1Spring and Labor DayNational holiday
2015FriMay 1Spring and Labor DayNational holiday
2015MonMay 4Public HolidayNational holiday
2016SunMay 1Spring and Labor DayNational holiday
2016MonMay 2Spring and Labor Day observedNational holiday
2017MonMay 1Spring and Labor DayNational holiday
2018TueMay 1Spring and Labor DayNational holiday
2019WedMay 1Spring and Labor DayNational holiday
2020FriMay 1Spring and Labor DayNational holiday

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