02 November 2009, Monday, 14:55

Russians will celebrate the National Unity Day on November 4

author: Marina Shumilova

On November 4 Russian citizens will celebrate the National Unity Day for the fifth time. In this very day, when the country stood on the verge of catastrophe in 1612, our forefathers – warriors, peasants, the clergy and the nobles – jointly drove the Polish interventionists out from Moscow. The idea of this holiday’s establishment, proposed by the Russian Inter-religious council, was actively supported by “United Russia” and Moscow Patriarchy. On December 16, 2004, Russian State Duma has passed the alterations of the federal law “The days of military glory (victorious days of Russia)” in three readings at once. For the first time the National Unity Day was celebrated in Russia on November 4, 2005.

This festival is not a historical novelty because it was celebrated in Russia since the XVII century. November 4 is also the Day of Kazan Godmother Icon, which the soldiers of the Territorial Russian Army prayed before the decisive battle with Polish interventionists. In 1649 the Day of Kazan Godmother Icon was announced the state holiday (on October 22 according to the old style) by the decree of the Tsar Alexei Mikhailovitch. After the October Revolution the tradition to celebrate the liberation of Moscow from Poles was abolished. So we may say the National Unity Day is not a new holiday but the return to the old tradition.

Historically this holiday is connected with the end of the Anxious Times in Russia – the long three-decade period beginning with the death of the Tsar Ivan the Terrible in 1584 and till 1613, when the first Tsar from Romanoff’s dynasty Michael Fedorovitch ascended the throne. The Anxious Times were the epoch of the deepest crisis of Russian state, caused by the end of the Tsar’s dynasty of Rurikovitchs. The dynasty crisis turned into a national-state one, when at the beginning of the XVII century Polish-Lithuanian and Swedish troops invaded Russia and the struggle with them coincided with the civil war. The country faced the imminent disintegration and the loss of national independence.

On the eve of the National Unity Day the Analytical Center of Uri Levada (Levada-Center) has held the traditional sociologic poll, aimed at the investigation how the new holiday adopts itself in Russian minds. The poll shows that 31% of people interrogated called the name of the festival correctly. As compared with 2005 the number of people, who answered this question rightly, increased nearly four times. But in order to make this festival really all-national it is necessary to restore the historical memory at the state level, beginning in particular from the rise of quality of historical text-books at schools and then in the course of time November 4, 1612, will become the real symbol of civil and spiritual unity for Russian citizens.