Several generations of USSR citizens celebrated the anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917 until 1991 November 4th . The date was marked by parades, demonstrations and speeches by the leaders of the Soviet Communist Party from the stands of the Lenin’s Mausoleum. But the party disappeared with the fall of the USSR.
Five years after the end of the USSR, the first president of Russia Boris Yeltsin restored to 7 November his status as a national holiday: from 1996 to 2004, reconciliation was celebrated on that day. However, this date too closely linked to communism did not allow the feast to take root.
Finally, National Unity Day was established by Vladimir Putin. It was inspired by the events of November 4, 1612, when an uprising led by Minine and Pojarski at the head of the Moscow popular militias liberated Moscow from the Polish invader and thus ended the “Time of Troubles” (1598-1613).
A bit of history… At the beginning of the 17th century, Russia lived one of the darkest pages of its history: the Riourikovich dynasty died and the Moscow state found itself on the brink of collapse. The country was devastated, the population lived in misery. This period is called the Time of Troubles. Russia was invaded by Polish and Swedish troops. The boyars of Moscow even let the Poles into the Russian capital and proclaimed the Polish prince Wladyslaw the new tsar of Russia. It was only after fierce fighting in November 1612 that the popular militias led by Prince Dmitri Pojarski and the leader of the local assembly Kouzma Minine succeeded in liberating Moscow. A year later, the Russian throne was occupied by the first tsar of the Romanov dynasty.
Today, this historic event is supposed to bear witness to the cohesion of the entire population regardless of its origin, its confession and its social condition.
This is the most recent national holiday that was only introduced in 2005. This holiday can be seen as a substitute for that of 7 November, the people having the habit of having a holiday in early November, which coincided with the school holidays.
Every 4 November, the President of Russia lays flowers at the foot of the famous monument in memory of Kouzma Minine and Dmitry Pojarski on the Red Square (a statue dedicated to them stands on the Red Square just in front of the St Basil’s Cathedral), official demonstrations and religious processions (that same day Orthodox Christians celebrate the icon of Our Lady of Kazan) are organized in the country.