Knowledge Day: How and Why we celebrate September 1st in Russia

Knowledge Day is the first bells at school and excitement, a sea of ​​flowers and white bows, and, of course, traditional peace lessons. This is the most long-awaited day for those who cross the school threshold for the first time.

The morning of September 1 is a special time for everyone. For some kids, it’s the first day of school, for some it’s the first day of the last school year, and for others it’s a sad day, because the long summer vacation is over and it’s time to start studying, homework and new projects. Regardless of how anyone relates to this holiday, everyone attends school on September 1st. This is a very exciting time for many children and parents. Each school usually has its own ceremony for this holiday, uniform and “first lesson”. Also in schools on this day a festive line is held. This is a special tradition from ancient times. All these are attributes of the Knowledge Day holiday for many parents and their children.

Knowledge Day is held annually on September 1st. Although this day originated from the early period of the USSR, it still has a huge cultural significance in some Eastern European countries. Nationally, this day marks the time of the year when all students return to school after the summer break – hence the name, knowledge day. In all countries of the former CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), a new academic year begins on this day. Each student, from a first-grader to a future university graduate, begins a new educational stage. Although some sources claim that this day was established in 1984, when a decision was made to make this day an official national holiday, information from other sources can be found that its history dates back much earlier. Since the 1930s, there have been reports of the significance of this day for the start of the school year. Samuil Marshak wrote a poem in 1935 called “The First of September”, which depicts a joyful story about children preparing for the start of the school year. What you may have already heard about this social event is that culturally every child is required to give teachers gifts, usually in the form of flowers. This is a day to show respect and gratitude to teachers by making the annual return to education something positive and festive! This day is especially interesting because many national holidays that were founded in the USSR have been lost in our time, and this one has survived many years of social change! There have been some changes in the celebration, in the sense that it is no longer customary to wear an official uniform, but flowers are still given, and the festive line and the “First Lesson” are still a tradition.

Why is Knowledge Day celebrated on September 1st?

The educational process in the old days began at different times. For example, in old schools, children started learning at the end of autumn. This was done for the simple reason that harvesting and agricultural work continued until late autumn, and as a rule, children from not very wealthy families of villagers who lived with their parents lived in the villages. Children from more affluent families and city gymnasium students started their studies in August, which is much closer in terms of time frames to the usual September 1st. Only in 1935, the Council of People’s Commissars announced the first of September as a date that would be the same for all schools in the Soviet space and adopted official study holidays and the duration of the academic year. Until that time, in many schools, unofficially, September 1 was the beginning of the school year. In the times of Ancient Russia, the New Year was celebrated on September 1, and only during the time of Peter I, it was decided to officially postpone the celebration of the New Year to January 1, and leave the start of studies on September 1, so as not to interrupt the educational process and not to transfer summer holidays to winter, because in summer villages continued to work. At that time, most of the schools in the villages were attached to the church, and the church continued to adhere to the usual schedule and calendar. After 1935, when September 1 was officially recognized as the start date of the school year, this day was declared a holiday. Gradually, the tradition took root to come to school in smart clothes on this day, bring bouquets to teachers and honor first-graders and graduates, as well as ring the school bell. It is because of the last tradition that the people began to call this day the First Bell. In 1980, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR by its decree established the official name for the holiday – the Day of Knowledge. After this decree, September 1 was legally added to the calendar as a holiday. In a more understandable and familiar format, Knowledge Day began to be celebrated only in 1984. In the post-war period of rebuilding and the establishment of new Soviet values, on this day it was decided to conduct a lesson in peace, patriotism and the establishment of national values. Bryukhovetsky F.F. is considered one of the creators of this holiday. – Honored teacher of the RSFSR. Officially, this holiday was established on June 15, 1984 after the issuance of a decree “On the announcement of September 1 as a national holiday – the Day of Knowledge.” Traditionally, a solemn line was held – lining up students in a line according to their class, the performance of officials and the director of the school, after which the best students of the school prepared a festive concert with poems, songs and dances. Today, September 1 has retained its traditions. As before, on this day, the school opens its doors for children and the new school year begins. True, now the official lineup is being reduced, and the concerts are becoming much shorter. More and more on this day, it is now customary to spend time in the classroom with your class teacher and celebrate Knowledge Day with relatives and family.

-Natalia

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