Unity Day - What is it and how will Saint Petersburg celebrate?
What is Unity Day?
День народного единства, translated into English as Unity Day, Day of People's Unity or National Unity Day, is celebrated on November 4.
What does it commemorate?
Unity Day commemorates the Russian victory in 1612 over Polish invaders. In the battle of Moscow, Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky (depicted above in the painting by Mikhail Scotti) led a volunteer army of both noblemen and commoners against the Polish occupation. Unity Day celebrates the unity between Russians of all social classes and their independence from foreign invaders.
How long has it been a holiday?
Unity Day is both Russia's "newest" holiday (праздник), having been established as a public holiday only in 2005, and one with a long history. It was celebrated from 1649 until the Bolsheviks replaced the holiday in 1917 with October Revolution Day (November 7) to celebrate the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Today, Unity Day again replaces the October Revolution Day.
A monument to Kuzma Minn and Dmitry Pozharksy in Moscow's Red Square
What events will take place in Saint Petersburg during the holiday?
On November 4 and 5, Saint Petersburg will host its 4th annual Festival of Lights. This year's event will be dedicated to celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.
Multimedia light shows every 15 minutes will be held from 7pm to 11pm on November 4th and 5th in the Palace Square (Дворцовая площадь) and at the Cruiser "Aurora" (pictured below), the warship which played an important role in the October Revolution. The shows will include music, 3-D video, lasers, and stories from October Revolution.
Both are free of charge. You can find more information in English here
or in Russian here