Russia National Day

By: Jane Roseen

Russia Day is one of the newest holidays celebrated by the Russian people. This does not mean, however, that it comes without due pomp and circumstance. Although it’s still young, Russia Day is evolving into a holiday revered by the Russian people.

On June 12, 1990, the Russian parliament formally declared its sovereignty from the Soviet Union. The National Sovereignty Declaration set the wheels in motion for the creation of what is now known as the Russian Federation, or more commonly Russia.

Russia Day was officially recognized by Boris Yeltsin in 1991 as a national holiday. As the new federation developed over the next decade, the holiday wasn’t truly celebrated in any other method than the Russian people having a day off of work. There just wasn’t any large national unity around the day.

This changed, however, in 2003. For the first time in 47 years, warplanes flew over the Kremlin to celebrate Russia Day. After a magnificent parade reminiscent of the Soviet military parades on Revolution Day, President Vladimir Putin watched from a stage in front of Lenin's tomb on Red Square. Dozens of dignitaries including Boris Yeltsin joined President Putin as the 10 military jets flew in triangular formation overhead.

"On this day, we honor our motherland, our Russia. We honor the country of a thousand years history and unique heritage, the country which united on a huge space many peoples, territories and cultures," Putin said in an address to the crowd on this historic Russia Day.

This celebration set the tone for Russia Day festivities since. Bands often play some of the most popular songs in Russian history, including tunes from the Soviet era. Cavalrymen gallop across public squares (including Red Square) wearing uniforms from the early 1800’s, prior to the Russian Revolution. Historical parades feature the uniforms dating from other periods of Russia's military glory, including during the reign of Peter the Great and Catherine II.

In addition to the show of military magnificence, people choose to use Russia Day to celebrate the history of their individual communities within Russia. Representatives from various regions show off the distinctive dress and dance styles of their respective communities, highlighting Russia's cultural and ethnic diversity.

These shows are staged throughout the country, not just in Moscow. It’s estimated that one million people have attended Russia Day (or Independence Day) celebrations in recent years, a number that’s only expected to grow as Russia Day evolves into an even more beautiful celebration of Russia past and present.

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Jane S. Roseen is the Owner and President of Harmony Sweets, an international gourmet chocolate shop. Harmony Sweets' mission focuses on individual consumers purchasing gourmet chocolates from around the world for their friends and relatives, as well as corporate gift giving. Gourmet chocolate gift baskets and personalized chocolates are also available. Website:

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