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Happy Day of Knowledge! // С Днём Знаний!

Every year on the 1st September, Russia celebrates the ‘Day of Knowledge’ (День Знаний). The holiday bears such a name due to the fact that the day marks the end of summer, the beginning of autumn and, most importantly, the new academic year for students. In other words, the season of long summer days at the Dacha (summerhouse) has ended, and a new year of early-wakeups and homework has begun! 

 

 

The holiday was officially created on the 1st September 1984 by the Supreme Council of the USSR. Before this, the 1st September was still known as the start of the academic year, but there were no official celebrations held on the day.  

Did you know? September 1 has marked the start of the new academic year for centuries (although it was not until 1935 that this date was made the official start of the academic year; before this, schools could follow their own timetable, which was especially useful for schools located in agricultural districts). In the times of Ancient Rus, September 1 marked the beginning of the new year in all senses of the word: it was the start of a new calendar year, the start of a new academic year, and the start of a new harvesting year. It was only during the reign of Peter the Great that New Year was moved to January 1, in imitation of Europe. However, out of  practicality, Peter the Great did not move the beginning of the academic calendar to January, instead opting to keep September 1 as the start of the school year.

The Day of Knowledge is a day primarily for school pupils, with special attention given to those who are starting school for the first time. It is also a day for university students, teachers, and anyone else who works for or studies within Russia’s education system. On this day, you will most likely see a multitude of young children being walked to school, dressed smartly and carrying flowers for their teachers. Girls often have white ribbons in their hair, in line with the tradition.

 

 

The day involves a celebratory lineup (called a ‘торжественные линейки’), which, along with the ‘first bell’, marks the official start of the academic year. The bell is rung by a girl in the first grade, and she must sit on the shoulders of a senior pupil (aged 17-18). In addition to these ceremonial traditions, pupils will celebrate this day by singing songs and reading poetry about school, listening to speeches, and even attending sample lessons (the exact programme of the day varies from school to school). Sometimes, local government representatives visit their local schools to join in the celebrations and ceremonies. The day is not a full school day - activities will often be concluded early into the day, meaning that school children are allowed to go home slightly earlier than normal.

 
 
The celebratory lineup (‘торжественные линейки’)
 
 
The 'first bell'
 
Did you know? During the Soviet Union, the first lesson given on the Day of Knowledge was the ‘Lesson of Peace’. This was because the Day of Knowledge coincides with the Day of Peace, which falls on the very day that Germany invaded Poland and started World War II. In this lesson, teachers taught students about the dangers of imperialists and about the past struggles for world peace.
 
 
A Soviet 'Day of Knowledge' poster
 

Now is your chance to sing a song that is often sung on this day! The translation can be found beneath the lyrics, and here is a link to a video of the song:

Чему учат в школе

(Music by Vladimir Shainskii; words by Mikhail Pliatskovskii)

Буквы разные писать
Тонким пёрышком в тетрадь
Учат в школе, учат в школе,
Учат в школе.
Вычитать и умножать,
Малышей не обижать
Учат в школе, учат в школе,
Учат в школе.
Вычитать и умножать,
Малышей не обижать
Учат в школе, учат в школе,
Учат в школе.
К четырём прибавить два,
По слогам читать слова
Учат в школе, учат в школе,
Учат в школе.

Книжки добрые любить
И воспитанными быть
Учат в школе, учат в школе,
Учат в школе.
Книжки добрые любить
И воспитанными быть
Учат в школе, учат в школе,
Учат в школе.
Находить Восток и Юг,
Рисовать квадрат и круг
Учат в школе, учат в школе,
Учат в школе.

И не путать никогда
Острова и города
Учат в школе, учат в школе,
Учат в школе.
И не путать никогда
Острова и города
Учат в школе, учат в школе,
Учат в школе.

Про глагол и про тире
И про дождик на дворе
Учат в школе, учат в школе,
Учат в школе.
Крепко-накрепко дружить,
С детства дружбой дорожить
Учат в школе, учат в школе,
Учат в школе.

Крепко-накрепко дружить,
С детства дружбой дорожить
Учат в школе, учат в школе,
Учат в школе.

What They Teach At School

Writing different letters
Into your notebook with a thin feather.
That’s what they teach at school, teach at school,
Teach at school.

Subtracting and multiplying,
Not being mean to younger ones.
That’s what they teach at school, teach at school,
Teach at school.

Subtracting and multiplying,
Not being mean to younger kids.
That’s what they teach at school, teach at school,
Teach at school.

Adding two to four,
Reading words by their syllables
That’s what they teach at school, teach at school,
Teach at school.

Learning to love good books,
And being brought up well.
That’s what they teach at school, teach at school,
Teach at school.

Learning to love good books,
And being brought up well.
That’s what they teach at school, teach at school,
Teach at school.

Finding the East and South on the map,
And learning to draw a square and a circle,
That’s what they teach at school, teach at school,
Teach at school.

And never ever confusing 
Islands with cities
That’s what they teach at school, teach at school,
Teach at school.

And never ever confusing  
Islands with cities
That’s what they teach at school, teach at school,
Teach at school.

Learning about the verb and the dash,
And the rain in the yard,
That’s what they teach at school, teach at school,
Teach at school.

And how to form tight friendships,
And to treasure friendships made in childhood,
That’s what they teach at school, teach at school,
Teach at school.

And how to form tight friendships,
And to treasure friendships made in childhood,
That’s what they teach at school, teach at school,

Teach at school.

 

Finally, we will finish with a few phrases that relate to the Day of Knowledge (and learning in general).

 

“Азбука – наука, а ребятам бука!”  Alphabet is a science, but a bogyman for children!

“Корень ученья горек, да плод его сладок!” The roots of learning are bitter, but the fruits are sweet!

"Первое сентября - красный день календаря!" The first of September - a beautiful day in the calendar!

 

Have you heard of any others?

 

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