Tatiana Day / Students’ Day in Russia Date in the current year: January 25, 2024

Tatiana Day / Students’ Day in Russia Alongside International Students’ Day (November 17), Russian students celebrate a national Students’ Day, which falls on January 25. It is often referred to as Tatiana Day because it is the feast day of Saint Tatiana, the patron saint of students, in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The history of the holiday dates back to 1755, when Empress Elizabeth of Russia decreed the establishment of the first Russian university. Ivan Shuvalov, the then-Minister of Education, asked her to sign the decree on January 12 because the date was symbolic for him: it was his mother’s name day. In 1791, the Church of Saint Tatiana was built on campus, and Saint Tatiana of Rome was officially declared the patroness of students by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Back then, January 12 in the Julian calendar, which was used in the Russian Empire, corresponded to January 23 in the Gregorian calendar, so the Moscow State University is generally considered to have been founded on January 23. However, when Russia switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1918, the difference between the two calendars had increased by two days, so the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the feast day of Saint Tatiana on January 25, and Students’ Day is celebrated on the same day.

The inaugural Students’ Day was celebrated in 1850. At first, it was exclusively celebrated by students of the Moscow State University. The celebration began with a prayer in the university chapel and an official ceremony, followed by citywide festivities. Some restaurants catered exclusively to the students and professors of the university, and even police officers didn’t arrest drunk and rowdy students. By the end of the century, however, Tatiana Day was celebrated by students and intellectuals in most university towns.

The celebration ceased in 1918 due to the October Revolution and the stigmatization of religions and religious celebrations that followed. Tatiana Day was forgotten until the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was revived in 1995, following the grand reopening of the Church of Saint Tatiana on the Moscow State University campus. In 2005, President Vladimir Putin officially declared January 25 as Russian Students’ Day.

Interestingly, Students’ Day coincides with the end of the first academic term in most Russian universities, which is fitting, since students can fully relax and celebrate without worrying about the impending final exams and have enough time to recharge before the beginning of the second academic term.

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Tatiana Day in Russia, Russian Students’ Day, holidays in Russia, religious observances, professional observances