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Datum objave: 09.09.2018

Moscow Celebrates its 871st Birthday

Understanding Russian Name Days

Moscow Celebrates its 871st Birthday

This Saturday is City Day, when Moscow celebrates its 871st birthday, but all weekend there will be plenty of festivals, special events at just about every museum or gallery, concerts and guided tours — not to mention fireworks. Here’s the cream of the crop carefully selected for you by The Moscow Times.


Moskino is organizing several free film showings around the city, divided into two programs: one devoted to the image of Moscow in cinema and the second one to alternative documentary films. In the latter category the most interesting one is “50,” devoted to the 50th anniversary of Pakhom, an artist and a public personality. After the film there will be a Q&A session with the director and Pakhom himself on Sept. 8 at the Fakel Theater (7 p.m.). The rest of the schedule is here and here.

Fakel Theater. 15/16 Shosse Entuziastov. Metro Avtomotornaya.

Maker Faire Moscow

One of the many festivals happening over the weekend is Maker Faire Moscow. The format, which comes from California, is a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement. Anyone can be a “maker.” All you need is create something using traditional or modern tools. The Moscow edition will take place in Gorky Park, with support of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art and MISiS University of Science and Technology. The festival will have several thematic zones, workshops and public lectures. For details see the organization site.

Museum of Moscow

Moscow’s namesake museum will also organize a festival of its own during the weekend of celebrations. Its courtyard will welcome its famous local food market with stalls peddling the best street food in the city, while the entrance to all exhibitions will be free and special tours will be organized. For details, see the museum site. 


Mosgortur, the city’s agency for official guided tours will organize 150 free tours at 55 various museums, memorial apartments, parks and city streets over the weekend. Find out more about the lives of composer Alexander Skryabin, poets Alexander Pushkin or Sergei Yesenin and many, many others. The tours are in Russian, but they definitely welcome foreigners. You can see the schedule and sign up here.

City parks

Every park is preparing something special for  City Day. Hermitage Garden will run a twelve-hour theater marathon with performances from all the leading Moscow theater companies, including Meyerhold Center, Taganka Theater, Moscow Ballet and many others. Zaryadye will have a series of concerts and street theater performances, and Krasnaya Presnya Park will organize public lectures on environmentally safe and healthy lifestyles. To see what’s happening in parks all over Moscow, check out the park site.

The best seat in town

Panorama 360, an observation platform located on the 89th floor of the Federation Tower in Moskva City, will be one of the best places to view the fireworks on Saturday evening. And it's not just 15 minutes of fireworks. The program includes immersive theater performance and a concert. For details see the site.

Understanding Russian Name Days

There are many traditions that can seem strange to foreigners and Russian name days are one of them. Although they are not widely celebrated any more, you may just come across a name day celebration during your time in Russia. At the very least, once you have learnt about name days you may be able to surprise a Russian friend with a card or gift on their name day!

The actual tradition of name days is not uniquely Russian, as it also features in other nations with strong orthodox or Catholic traditions. In these other countries and in Russia, the most common names are shared with saints. The day these saints were born (for Catholics) and the day they died (for Orthodox) is the name day for the name of that particular saint. For example, the Russian name day for the name Natalia (and we probably all know at least one!) is September 8th.

Traditionally, name days were a very religious affair and also prompted a celebration as big as a birthday, if not bigger. If you have read your traditional Russian literature carefully, you will also have noted references to name days in popular works by Pushkin, Chekhov and Tolstoy. The celebration of name days suffered after the revolution, due to the repression of Orthodox religion in the USSR. Now that religion is back in a big way here in Russia, name days are making a slight come back, but are still not widely celebrated. You could definitely find young Russians who have absolutely no idea what their name day is.

These days, throwing a lavish party for  person name day is not expected and would not be the done thing. Most people who still recognise the Russian name day tradition just give a card or a small gift. To discover the dates of various name days, there is a very useful online tool called Name Day Calculator.

Now that you understand the tradition of Russian name days, you can impress your Russian friends and further immerse yourself in Russian culture! If there are any other interesting Russian tradition that you think we should cover here on the blog, let us know in the comment section below.

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