Even today many Russian’s don’t know why they celebrate Russia Day on June 12, but who cares?! It’s a day off from work!

So what’s not to like?!

When this holiday was first introduced in 1994, it was not originally called Russia Day but the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Russian Federation. Officials renamed it to Russia Day because many Russians refused to celebrate the day the Soviet Union collapsed. The fall of the Soviet Union led to unemployment, poverty and chaos in the country – not something that deserved a celebration.

Here is an excerpt from Marshall Poland’s article, “Russian Economy in the Aftermath of the Collapse of the Soviet Union”. This article illustrates exactly why this “holiday” was (in many of the Russian’s eyes) not worthy of festivity.

President Boris Yeltsin had no strong survival plan in 1991 after communism fell in Russia and the USSR was split into fifteen separate republics.

He had no clear plans regarding the transition that had to be made. When little was done in the first month of his rule to alleviate the crisis facing the nation, the Russian people began to panic as they realized how severe the removal of communism would have on both the economy and their everyday life.

This resulted in the devalue of savings, salaries and pensions, and left the economy in a terrible state.

 Many factories were forced to shut down because the government no longer supported them financially in return for their goods. It was during this period of rapid privatization that Russia’s “oligarchs” gained much of their wealth.

Many of the oligarchs are described almost as mafia and certainly criminals who, during this time in Russian history, took advantage of the situation and used all kinds of dishonest means to acquire their empires.

If the weather permits, the Russian’s spend this day outside celebrating at city-hosted events and concerts, tanning and barbecuing, soaking up the sun and enjoying time with friends and family (often at the dacha). Big cities offer a variety of events, parades and concerts. Banks, public offices and schools are closed.