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Russia's National Unity Day

2. November 2010 by Christy 0 Comments

Observed on November 4, National Unity Day, or Day of People’s Unity, commemorates an uprising in 1612 which expelled the Polish-Lithuanian occupation force from Moscow and brought an end of the Time of Troubles. The holiday is called Unity Day because Russians of all classes came together to rid the country of foreign invaders and preserve their homeland.

 

Though Russians abandoned National Unity Day in 1917, President Vladimir Putin renewed the holiday in 2005 to replace the commemoration of the October Revolution (celebrated on November 7). This decision angered some, particularly members of the Communist Party, but the holiday remains and continues to create controversy. In recent years, ultra-nationalist groups have held demonstrations on Unity Day and clashed with authorities. This year, approximately 30,000 young people will march to show their allegiance to the policies conducted by the Kremlin.

 

Despite the controversy created by some groups, polls in recent years have shown that most Russians are unaware of the historical significance of National Unity Day and that few even know the holiday’s true name. As the holiday is only a few years old, there is little in the way of traditions, though some Russians may lay flowers at the monuments of Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky (above), the leaders of the 1612 uprising. Unity Day is an official public holiday, however, and most citizens have the day off work or school. For this reason, many Russians view Unity Day as nothing more than a welcome fall break.