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Unity Day in Russia

Unity Day calls for tolerance between various ethnic and religious groups in the Russian Federation. However, the holiday’s purpose can at times be misunderstood. Ultranationalists may organize demonstrations on this day, and many others see it as a day off.

Is Unity Day a Public Holiday?

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

Famous statue of Minin and Pozharsky in front of St Basil's Cathedral on Red Square.

Many Russians remember national heroes, such as Minin and Pozharsky (statues pictured above) on Unity Day.

©iStockphoto.com/George Clerk

What Do People Do?

Russians may celebrate Unity Day in many ways. Some may lay flowers to the monuments of national heroes, Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky, who led a popular uprising that freed Moscow from occupation forces on November 4, 1612.

Russian Orthodox Christians may attend a church service to honor Our Lady of Kazan, one of the most important Russian Orthodox icons. November 4 is this icon’s feast day. The church service usually ends with a procession. Many politicians, public and religious figures stress in televised addresses the need for unity of all ethnic and religious groups in the Russian Federation. Concerts and exhibitions take place on this day.

However, for many Russians, November 4 is just another day off or a substitute for a holiday that was held on November 7 in the Soviet times. Yet others may see it as a call for unity of ethnic Russians against non-Russians. Some ultranationalists and neo-Nazis may have demonstrations on this day.

Public Life

November 4 is a public holiday in the Russian Federation. Schools, post offices, public buildings and most businesses are closed on this day. Public transport schedules may vary due to religious processions and political demonstrations. If November 4 falls on a weekend, the public holiday usually moves to the following Monday.

Background

Unity Day commemorates a Russian popular uprising that freed Moscow from Polish-Lithuanian occupation forces on November 4, 1612. Leaders of the uprising, Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky, became national heroes. In 1649, Russian Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich made November 4 (October 22 of the then used Julian calendar) a public holiday. Many Russians celebrated this day until 1917. In 1918, the Bolsheviks replaced it with a new holiday, November 7, to commemorate the Revolution of 1917. November 4 once again became a public holiday in 2005, when the Russian Parliament removed November 7 from the list of official public holidays and introduced Unity Day.

Symbols

Monuments dedicated to Minin and Pozharsky, Our Lady of Kazan icon and the Russian flag are the most common symbols of Unity Day in Russia.

Unity Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2015WedNov 4Unity DayNational holiday
2016FriNov 4Unity DayNational holiday
2017SatNov 4Unity DayNational holiday
2017MonNov 6Unity Day observedNational holiday
2018SunNov 4Unity DayNational holiday
2018MonNov 5Unity Day observedNational holiday
2019MonNov 4Unity DayNational holiday
2020WedNov 4Unity DayNational holiday
2021ThuNov 4Unity DayNational holiday
2022FriNov 4Unity DayNational holiday
2023SatNov 4Unity DayNational holiday
2023MonNov 6Unity Day observedNational holiday
2024MonNov 4Unity DayNational holiday
2025TueNov 4Unity DayNational holiday

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