365 Russian reasons to drink! 🥂

Kira Lisitskaya (Photo: TASS; Sergey Guneev/Sputnik; Legion Media)
We’ve made a calendar of Russia’s main historical events, official holidays and folk customs. It turns out that every day is an occasion to raise a toast!


January 1

New Year’s Day! This date became a holiday in Russia only in 1947. Nowadays, it is customary to see in the New Year on the night of December 31 — with a glass of bubbly, of course.

January 2

The year is no longer new, unfortunately. On January 2, 1703, Vedomosti, the first printed newspaper in Russia, went to press.

January 3

In 1905, this date saw the start of the workers' strike at the Putilov factory, which led to the first Russian revolution that same year. To the first revolution!

January 4 

In 1959, the Soviet Luna 1 became the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon. To infinity and beyond!

January 5

Joke International Dieting Day. Ok, no food, but drinking's allowed, right?!

January 6

Russian Tsar Alexander I declared the end of the Patriotic War of 1812 (read about it here), during which Napoleon’s troops allegedly set fire to Moscow (some say the Russians did it themselves to make the city uninhabitable for the invaders). Either way, it was the last time an enemy army entered Moscow. 

January 7

Russian Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas.

January 8

In the folk calendar, this is known as Babiy Den, a celebration of child-bearing women and midwives.

January 9

This is commonly the last day of Russia’s long New Year vacation. A sad occasion that still needs to be marked.

10 days of drinking... 355 more to come

January 10

Let's raise to glass to international friendship in honor of the opening of the first session of the UN General Assembly in 1946.

January 11

A big thank you to International Thank You Day!

January 12

On Prosecutor's Office Workers Day (no, really), we offer a favorite Soviet-era toast of all Russians, which roughly translates as: “Here’s to having everything except accountability for how we got it.”

January 13

Russian Press Day is a holiday for journalists (and, of course, our dear readers!).

January 14

A uniquely Russian (i.e. peculiar) holiday — Old New Year!

January 15

In 1925, the first amateur radio station appeared in the USSR. Where would we be without tinkerers!

January 16

Let's raise a glass to freedom of choice: in 1724, Peter the Great forbade forced marriages, even for serfs.

January 17

In the folk calendar, this day honors the patron saint of beekeepers. Where’s my glass of mead?!

January 18

An important date in 20th-century history: the day, in 1944, when the Siege of Leningrad was finally broken.

January 19

Orthodox Christians celebrate Epiphany by jumping into a cross-shaped ice-hole. As one does...

Epiphany ice bath

January 20

In 1980, U.S. President Jimmy Carter announced his country’s boycott of the Moscow Olympics. Never mind. It meant more medals for the USSR! Here’s to strength of mind and body!

January 21

Let’s embrace in honor of International Hugging Day!

January 22

This day is considered the start of the first Russian revolution (the one in 1905, in case you’ve lost track of them all).

January 23

Moscow State University's birthday (1755). Here’s to knowledge!

January 24

On this day in 1921, the popsicle was patented in the US. The favorite sweet of many generations!

January 25

Student's Day. Lovely memories...

January 26

Five days after Lenin's death, St Petersburg, already renamed Petrograd, was re-renamed Leningrad, before being re-re-renamed St Petersburg. Confused? A drink will help!

January 27

Day of Military Glory: when Leningrad (see above) was liberated from the Nazi blockade, which had lasted 872 dreadful days.

The Siege of Leningrad broke up!

January 28

To knowledge again: in 1724, Peter the Great founded the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences and St Petersburg State University.

January 29

The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, hundreds of razor-sharp short stories: the birthday of writer and playwright Anton Chekhov is worth celebrating a thousand times over.

January 30

The world’s first radiosonde for atmospheric research was launched in 1930 by the USSR. We abhor clichés here at Russia Beyond, so we certainly won’t say the sky’s the limit...

January 31

In 1865, the great Russian chemist Dmitry Mendeleev defended his thesis on the topic “On the Combinations of Water with Alcohol.” Happy birthday, dear vodka! 


February 1

The first day of the last month of winter! (Apologies to readers in the Southern Hemisphere, but at least it's sunny where you are.)

February 2 

The turning point in World War II, when the Germans and allies surrendered at Stalingrad (now Volgograd).

February 3

Boris Pasternak once wrote: "February. Get out the ink and weep." We know how he felt...

February 4

World Cancer Day. We wish you all good health! (Incidentally, Russians don't say NA zdovorye when they drink, and neither should you! Here’s why)

February 5

In 1901, the legendary Eliseevsky store opened on Tverskaya Street in central Moscow. Walking past is a crime!

February 6

In St. Petersburg in 1865, the first midday cannon shot was fired. A tradition that survives to this day. Drinking before noon is bad form, but afterwards...

Midday gun tradition

February 7

1950 witnessed the first landing by a Soviet helicopter (a Ka-10) on the deck of a ship. To technological progress!

February 8

Day of Russian Science. To scientific progress as well!

February 9

In 1896, the first world figure skating championship was held in St Petersburg. By the way, at Lake Baikal there’s a tradition of slurping up vodka directly from the ice! Don't believe it? Check out our video.

February 10

The birthday of the aforementioned Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago and Nobel laureate (also the day when Russia's national poet Alexander Pushkin was killed in a duel).

February 11

In 1697, Peter the Great authorized the sale of tobacco in Russia. It soon went hand in hand (or mouth in mouth) with alcohol.

February 12

Moscow Zoo was opened on this day in 1864, one of the oldest and largest in Europe.

February 13

Let's drink to travel! On this day in 1842, Nicholas I approved the construction of the St. Petersburg– Moscow railway.

February 14

St. Valentine's Day. Happy for some, heartbreaking for others. Either way, there’s no reason not to drink.

February 15

Candlemas for Orthodox Christians, also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ.

February 16

In 1976, the first KAMAZ truck was produced at the Kama Automobile Plant. A real beast!


February 17

Let's drink to staying warm! In the folk calendar, the Day of Nikolai Studeny, an Orthodox saint whose last name means “Frozen”; it was believed that this day would always be very cold (and in 1740, a record -40°C was recorded in St. Petersburg).

February 18

The birthday of Russian romanticism’s leading artist, Alexey Venetsianov. All Russians know him from childhood!

February 19

To freedom! On this day in 1861, Alexander II signed a decree on the abolition of serfdom.

February 20

It was on this day in 1986 that the Mir space station was launched into orbit. In Russian, mir means both “world” and “peace” — so what shall we drink to?

February 21

International Mother Language Day. Let's raise a toast to all 270 languages and dialects spoken by the different peoples of Russia!

February 22

In 1966, a satellite was launched with the space dogs Veterok and Ugolok on board. They set the still-unbroken record for the longest animal-crewed spaceflight: 22 days. To our brave furry friends!

February 23

Defender of the Fatherland Day (originally in honor of Red Army soldiers, but since Soviet times extended to all men, whether they deserve it or not).

February 24

“Evident, but Incredible” is the name of a popular science TV show launched in 1973, which all Russians know about, even non-scientists. Hosted by physicist Sergey Kapitsa, it taught an entire nation to believe in the power of science.

February 25

In 1956, Nikita Khrushchev lifted the lid on Stalin's personality cult. Here’s to personality cults! No, hang on a minute... Here’s to debunking personality cults!

February 26

Comrades, we’ve been drinking for almost two months now... Time to fight the scourge of drunkenness. But, as they say in Russia, every fight starts with a drink!

February 27

International Polar Bear Day. Here’s to what's left of the Arctic!

Polar bear on the coast of the East Siberian Sea

February 28

Hurray, the last day of winter!


March 1

World Beer Day and the first day of spring!

March 2

According to the folk calendar, it was customary to pray that all missing people and lost things would be found. Sounds like a toast!

March 3

The start of the reign of the Romanov dynasty in Russia when, in 1613, the 16-year-old Mikhail Fedorovich ascended the throne. Monarchists, rejoice!

March 4

In 1877, the Bolshoi Theater hosted the premiere of Petr Tchaikovsky's new ballet Swan Lake. Let's drink to the Swan Queen Odette in her struggle against the evil sorcerer Rothbart (and to the great Tchaikovsky himself).

Swan Lake

March 5

Joseph Stalin died in 1953. Although millions mourned the moustachioed monster, many victims’ families cracked open the champagne.

March 6

In 1869, Dmitry Mendeleev unveiled his game-changing periodic table of chemical elements. To new discoveries!

March 7

Boris Kustodiev, one of the most highly valued Russian artists of all time (in 2012, his painting The Coachman went under the hammer at Christie’s for $7 million), was born on this day in 1878. To the power of art!

March 8

International Women's Day is a day off in Russia and one of the country’s favorite holidays (even for men).

March 8, the women's day

March 9

On Yuri Gagarin’s birthday, let’s drink to limitless possibilities!

March 10

Archives Day. May not a single good memory be forgotten!

March 11

In 1931, the "Ready for Labor and Defense of the USSR" physical culture training program was approved. In a word, sport. Here’s to staying fit!

March 12

In 1918, the capital was moved from Petrograd back to Moscow. What goes up (geographically) must come down!

March 13

In 1930, the Soviet Union became the first country in the world to officially end unemployment (and not because Uncle Joe shot anyone without a job!).

March 14

Today is Pi Day, when mathematicians celebrate the number π with a drink and, who knows, maybe a pie.

March 15

In 1917, the last tsar, Nicholas II, abdicated the throne. Let's wish that our affairs will be completed more successfully.  

Nicholas II under guard

March 16

According to the folk calendar, this is when hibernating bears awake and come blinking out into the sunlight. Still, we all have trouble getting out of bed sometimes. To fresh new starts!

March 17

Russians celebrate St. Patrick's Day just as keenly as the Irish.

March 18

In 1965, Soviet pilot and cosmonaut Alexey Leonov performed the first ever spacewalk. Makes you dizzy just thinking about it. Or maybe that’s just the drink...

March 19

Happy Submariner's Day! In 1906, by the decree of Nicholas II, the submarine forces of the Russian Navy were created.

March 20

In 1888, the world's first professional operetta in the Romany language was premiered in Moscow. It's not a real party without gypsies and bears!

March 21

On World Poetry Day, let’s drink to all the genius Russian poets and read aloud their most beloved verses.

March 22

Russians love to drink to meeting up! In 1897, a momentous meeting took place between Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko. The result was the creation of the Moscow Art Theater.

March 23

Let there be light! In 1876, Russian engineer Pavel Yablochkov patented the electric light bulb.

March 24

On Air Navigator's Day, let's drink to finding our way back home after copious libations.

March 25

Citius, altius, fortius! (“Faster, higher, stronger!” – the Olympic motto). In 2003, the explorer, survivalist and priest (!) Fyodor Konyukhov set a record for crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a catamaran: 9 days 23 hours 33 minutes.

March 26

In 2000, Vladimir Putin was first elected president of Russia.

Vladimir Putin's inauguration

March 27

In 1995, Nikita Mikhalkov's Burnt by the Sun won the Oscar for best foreign film. Here’s to cinematic success!

March 28

The birthday of the great writer Maxim Gorky. “The meaning of life lies in human improvement,” he wrote. A great toast!

March 29

Feminism in Russia is more advanced than you might think: the first grammar school for girls opened its doors in 1858.

March 30

Daylight saving time was introduced for the first time in the USSR. Here's to lighter evenings!

March 31

In 1981, the classic Soviet tragi-romcom Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears won an Oscar. Here's to finding love where you least expect it! 


April 1

Did you know that April Fool’s Day can be traced back to the Roman festival of Hilaria? Seriously:)

April 2

To democracy à la russe! 1906 saw the first elections to the newly instituted State Duma.

April 3

In 1967, the cult Soviet film Kidnapping, Caucasian Style, or Shurik's New Adventures was released. A toast from the movie: “Let our desires match our capabilities!”

A still from 'Kidnapping, Caucasian style' movie

April 4

In 1753, Empress Elizaveta Petrovna abolished the death penalty in the Russian Empire. To long life!

April 5

In 1930, the first sound movie theater, the unpronounceable Khudozhestvenny, was opened in Moscow. To cinematic progress!

April 6

In 1772, Catherine the Great abolished the “beard tax” levied by her fellow “great” — Peter I. To freedom of appearance!

April 7

The Runet's birthday. Thanks for reading!

April 8

In 1782, the first free state schools appeared in Russia. May it always be so!

April 9

In 1699, Peter the Great issued a decree on the cleanliness of Moscow streets. To a pleasant urban environment!

April 10

In 1995, the Beer Lovers Party was registered in Russia. What do they stand for? If only we knew...

April 11

The premiere of Georgiy Danelia's classic film Walking the Streets of Moscow took place. To open borders!

April 12

Cosmonautics Day. On this day in 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to fly into space.

Yury Gagarin, the first man in space

April 13

The first trolleybus in Russia was launched in St Petersburg in 1902. Today there aren’t many left, but nostalgia is a wonderful thing!

April 14

In 1918, the Red Banner became the official flag of Russia.

April 15

The birthday of one of the Strugatsky brothers, pioneers of philosophical science fiction. To the power of the imagination!

April 16

According to the folk calendar, fishermen can expect the ice to break. To fishing all year round!

April 17

In 1877, Leo Tolstoy completed his mighty novel Anna Karenina. To fidelity!

April 18

Day of Military Glory: in 1242, a Russian force defeated the Teutonic Knights in the Battle of Lake Peipus, aka the Battle on the Ice.

April 19

The Spartak sports society was founded in the USSR, which remains incredibly popular to this day, thanks to the soccer successes of Spartak Moscow.

April 20

Day of Military Glory: in 1942, the Battle of Moscow ended. Soviet troops prevented the Nazis from entering the capital!

April 21

In 1951, the National Olympic Committee of the USSR was set up. To Russian champions!

April 22

The birthday of Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin). Celebrated by communists, remembered by all.

April 23

“Brevity is the sister of talent” — it was on this day that Anton Chekhov penned his famous aphorism. Sounds like another toast!

April 24

In 1803, Tsar Alexander I signed a decree to develop the spa region of Mineralnye Vody in the Caucasus region, now home to several excellent resorts. To good health!

April 25

This day saw the founding of the Russian Museum in St Petersburg — a magnificent repository of Russian art.

April 26

International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day. No comment required.

April 27

On this day in 1922, Russia’s largest and coldest region, Yakutia, was proclaimed a Soviet republic.

Heavy frosts in Yakutia

April 28

“Drinking champagne in the morning is for aristocrats or degenerates. You decide which you are!” 1969 saw the release of Leonid Gaidai's cult comedy The Diamond Arm, the source of this and many other classic quotes.

April 29

According to the folk calendar, this is the day to plant seedlings. To dacha-goers and gardeners!

April 30

To freedom of belief! In 1905, Nicholas II signed a decree on religious tolerance. 


May 1

Spring and Labor Day, always a day-off in Russia. To paraphrase a Russian proverb: “Those who do not work, do not get to drink!”

May 2

Another day-off, to recover from the first. A barbecue at the dacha with a drink or two is just what the doctor ordered.

May 3

The birthday of one of Russian Orthdoxy’s main saints, Sergius of Radonezh, founder of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius in Sergiyev Posad.

May 4

To the incredible Russian ballet! In 1738, Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Landé founded the the first dance school in St. Petersburg, which would go on to conquer the ballet world.

May 5

In 1912, the first issue of the workers’ newspaper Pravda, founded by Vladimir Lenin, was published (it's still going strong). To truth!

May 6

In the folk calendar, St. George’s Day, honoring the patron saint of Moscow, who is depicted on the city’s coat of arms. To Moscow and Muscovites!

May 7

Radio Day. To the physicist Alexander Popov!

May 8

In 1713, the capital of Russia was relocated from Moscow to St Petersburg. To Russia’s cultural capital!

May 9

Victory Day!

Banner of Victory over the Reichstag

May 10

On this day, the tsar Alexander III ordered the construction of a shopping arcade on Red Square: the sumptuous GUM department store. To tasteful shopping, Russian-style!

May 11

On this day, people go out to collect birth sap, which, in case you’re wondering, quickly ferments and becomes intoxicating.

May 12

Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin, went online for the first time in 1998 (!) to answer questions from the public. To innovation!

May 13

A Russian proverb says: “Money isn’t mushrooms — you can find it even in winter.” On this day, the Nobles’ Land Bank, the first state bank in Russia, was founded.

May 14

Alexander Pushkin's The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish, known and loved by all Russian children, was published. To golden fish fulfilling your every wish!

May 15

To the Moscow subway! In 1935, the first line came on stream, with 13 stations. We bet you’re wondering which one it was!

May 16

In 1896, the first ever film screening in Russia was held. “Of all the arts, cinema is the most important for us,” said Vladimir Lenin. Sounds like yet another toast!

May 17

The people’s poet Vladimir Mayakovsky published a collection of poems entitled Ya (“I”). To modesty!

May 18

To girl power! In 1724, the first Russian empress, Catherine I, was crowned.

May 19

Pioneer’s Day. In 1922, at the All-Russian Youth Conference, it was decided to create a children's movement.

May 20

To Mother Volga! This unofficial holiday honors the great Russian river.

May 21

In 1979, Elton John became the first Western star to perform in the USSR. To the rocking rocket man!

May 22

Construction of one of Moscow’s most beautiful buildings, Pashkov House, opposite the Kremlin, began on this day. To architecture!

Pashkov House

May 23

In 1873, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Snow Maiden was premiered. To the faithful companion of Ded Moroz (aka Father Frost or the “Russian Santa Claus”)!

May 24

Day of Slavic Literature and Culture. Let's raise a glass to the monks Cyril and Methodius, who created what became the Cyrillic alphabet.

May 25

So that linguists don't feel left out, the Day of Slavic Literature and Culture is followed by Philologist’s Day!

May 26

On the birthday of Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, let’s drink to all the many wonderful Russian women writers (read about the most outstanding here).

May 27

St. Petersburg was founded in 1703!

May 28

Border Guard's Day, plus lots of folk festivities in Russia.

May 29

On this day in 1590, the first voluntary settlers departed for Siberia. Today, stories about the charms of life in Siberia are among our most popular.

May 30

Okroshka Day. You can make this delicious cold soup with kefir or kvass. Which side are you on?

Okroshka, a summer soup

May 31

In 2003, the reconstructed Amber Room at the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo was opened (the original was removed by the Nazis and disappeared without trace in the 1940s). To the preservation of cultural heritage!


June 1

International Day for the Protection of Children, and the first day of summer!

June 2

According to the folk calendar, time to plant cucumbers. And what do cucumbers make? A great vodka accompaniment!

June 3

World Bicycle Day! Did you know that Leo Tolstoy was an avid cyclist? You do now.

June 4

In 1703, the first building was laid in St Petersburg — the cabin of Peter the Great. Happy housewarming!

June 5

Russians say that “all jobs are good, all professions are important.” In the modern world, the profession of ecologist is becoming especially important. Happy Ecologist’s Day!

June 6

The birthday of Alexander Pushkin and Russian Language Day! Where’s my glass?

Alexander Pushkin

June 7

Here’s to always finding an excuse to have a drink!

June 8

Peter the Great issued another of his many decrees, this time to set up special homes for the poor, sick and elderly. Today it’s celebrated as Social Worker’s Day. Here’s to never being in need!

June 9

“Of course I despise my fatherland from head to toe — but I’m annoyed when a foreigner shares this feeling with me,” wrote the great poet Alexander Pushkin in 1826. To patriotism (of sorts)!

June 10

In 1936, the famous film studio Soyuzmultfilm was founded in the USSR. To Cheburashka, A Kitten Named Woof, Prostokvashino and Hedgehog in the Fog! No, we haven’t gone mad (yet). These are all classic Soviet animated films. Go check them out when you finish this article!

June 11

In 1858, St. Isaac's Cathedral was consecrated in St Petersburg, having been under construction for 50 years. To finishing what you’ve started!

June 12

Russia Day. Bottoms up!

June 13

The first electric tramway in the Russian Empire was launched in 1892 in... Kiev! The most environmentally friendly mode of transport operates throughout Russia to this day.

June 14

In 1891, work began on the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway. How can anyone not love the romance of long-distance train travel?!

From the Trans Siberian window

June 15

In Russia, it’s Young Naturalist’s Day. Here’s to everyone finding their passion in life!

June 16

Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space in 1963. To cosmic explorers!

June 17

Composer Igor Stravinsky was born in 1882 in the Russian Empire, later becoming a citizen of France and the US. His ground-breaking The Rite of Spring provoked a riot when premiered in Paris. Here’s to the uniting power of music!

June 18

1937 witnessed the first non-stop flight from Moscow to the US via... the North Pole. Two days later, the three Russian daredevils — Valery Chkalov, Georgy Baidukov and Alexander Belyakov — successfully landed in Vancouver (in the US state of Washington, not Canada). To madness and bravery!

June 19

Medical Worker’s Day. Here’s to all the selfless people in (and out of) white coats!

June 20

Extreme sports in Russia date back more than 200 years: in 1803, the first Russian hot air balloon flight took place in the skies of St Petersburg!

June 21

The longest day of the year. That means more drinking time!

June 22

The Day of Remembrance and Sorrow in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, marking the start of Operation Barbarossa in 1941, the Nazi invasion of the USSR.

June 23

Balalaika Day. How can only three strings make such a mesmerizing sound?

Russian essentials - beautiful girls and balalaika

June 24

Nikita Khrushchev promised Richard Nixon (and we’re paraphrasing here) to tan his hide... Here’s to level-headed statesmanship!

June 25

Day of Friendship and Unity of the Slavs!

June 26

Inventor’s Day. For thinking outside the proverbial box!

June 27

Youth Day! They’ll definitely have a drink.

June 28

Mikhail Gorbachev made his first speech about political and structural reform at the 1988 All-Union Conference of the Communist Party of the USSR. To reform!

June 29

Day of Partisans and Underground Resistance. To those who never surrender!

June 30

Still two months of summer to go! 


July 1

Russians absolutely love reading! The Moscow Public Library was opened in 1862, now known as the State Russian Library (nicknamed “Leninka”), the largest in the country.

July 2

In 1860, the city of Vladivostok was founded 6,416 km east of Moscow. To the enormity of Russia!

The Golden Bridge in Vladivostok

July 3

Secret Friend Day. Why secret? Let's celebrate!

July 4

A day off to recover from all the celebrations. Isn’t that also a reason to celebrate?!

July 5

To those who drink and don’t get drunk! By the way, here are a couple of tips from the experts (i.e. Russians).

July 6

To the great avant-garde artist Marc Chagall on his birthday!

July 7

Ivan Kupala or Kupala Night, when Slavs traditionally mark the summer solstice. On this night, young lovers must jump over a bonfire to ensure happiness and a long life together. We prefer to warm ourselves by the fire, not in it.

July 8

Peter and Fevronia Day, the Russian Romeo and Juliet. Also known as the Day of Family, Love and Fidelity. Take your pick of toasts!

July 9

According to the folk calendar, it's time to go strawberry-picking. Na dorozhku (“One for the path”) as Russians say. Similar to “one for the road” but for any outdoor excursion.

July 10

Day of Military Glory: in honor of Peter the Great’s victory over the Swedes in the Battle of Poltava in 1709.

July 11

There’s no shortage of sweets on World Chocolate Day. Incidentally, here are some candies loved by (nearly) all Russians.

July 12

The feast of Saints Peter and Paul. We know who to toast!

July 13

In 1728, the Danish-born Russian navigator Vitus Bering set sail from the coast of Kamchatka to the north (and later discovered the Bering Strait). Here’s to always finding a way.

July 14

In 1897, Sunday was declared a day off in Russia. That's definitely something to drink to (on Saturday evening). 

July 15

The first ever “handshake in space” during the Soyuz–Apollo mission of 1975. In space no one can hear you chink glasses!

July 16

In Russia, Neptune Day is celebrated in children's camps with a ceremonial dousing with water. We prefer champagne!

Neptune Day on the beach in Sochi

July 17

“There is no sex in the USSR,” stated a straight-faced Soviet lady in 1986. Let’s debunk that particular myth and drink to... procreation!

July 18

In 1936, the Soviet Cup, a soccer tournament, kicked off. To your favorite team!

July 19

On this day in 1799, the Russian emperor, Paul I, chartered the Russian-American Company for the development of Alaska. Sixty-eight years later Russia sold all its American possessions to the fledgling U.S. “What we have, we don’t keep. Having lost it, we weep” is today’s depressing (for Russians) toast.

July 20

According to popular belief, if it rains today, it will last a long time... Well, then, time for mulled wine, a blanket and a movie. (In case it rains for a VERY long time, here are the Top 100 Russian-language films of all time.)

July 21

On this Orthodox feast day in honor of the Kazan Icon of the Theotokos (Mother of God), black milkcap mushrooms are said to ripen. And what do mushrooms make? A great snack! Here’s what else Russians do with mushrooms

July 22

The birthday of Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich (1596), the first of the Romanovs. Here’s to being first!

July 23

In 1874, engineer Alexander Lodygin invented the incandescent lamp. Now we don’t have to drink by candlelight!

Peasants examining a light bulb

July 24

Russia marks Cadastral Engineer’s Day and Florist’s Day... and why ever not?

July 25

In 1907, the physicist and inventor Boris Rosing applied for a patent for a "Method for the electrical transmission of images at a distance” — the first television! To being first, always!

July 26

In 2010, Russia introduced a zero-tolerance drink-driving law. To driving without drinking and vice versa!

July 27

According to the chronicles, Moscow was founded on this day in 1147, although even the year is disputed, never mind the exact date. But Moscow can be toasted ad infinitum, right?

July 28

Day of the Baptism of Rus. According to the old Russian tradition, we must drink three times in quick succession. Only three?

July 29

The birthday of Ivan Aivazovsky (1817), surely the greatest seascape painter of all time. No one can match his tempestuous depictions of the briny. To his unique talent!

July 30

In 1907, the first bus route was opened in Moscow. To public transport!

July 31

In 1994, Soviet athlete Sergey Bubka set a world pole-vaulting record of 6.14 m, which remained unbroken for 26 years. To new heights!


August 1

The last month of summer...

August 2

Paratrooper’s Day. Paratroopers in stripy vests drink outside, everyone else at home.

August 3

In 1980, the XXII Summer Olympic Games ended in Moscow. Those who witnessed it can’t but shed a tear at the memory of the helium-balloon Mishka, the cuddly bear mascot of the Olympics, drifting slowly upwards and away. Maybe he’s still up there, smiling down on us?

The closing ceremony of the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympic Games takes place at the V. Lenin Central stadium.

August 4

Mary Magdalene Day. According to folk traditions, there was no working in the fields on this day. Fine by us!

August 5

The great Russian artist Ilya Repin was born in 1844. Every one of his pictures packs an almighty punch. See for yourself!

August 6

In 1502, the icon painter Dionisius began work on the Ferapontov Monastery; today these frescoes are a UNESCO treasure. To exceptional talent!

August 7

In 1983, the Central Committee of the Communist Party issued the now ridiculous-sounding directive "On strengthening socialist labor discipline," which became both a meme and a toast.

August 8

International Cat Day. You gotta be kitten me! (See here for some uniquely Russian breeds.)

August 9

In Moscow, in 1605, the first in a string of False Dmitrys claimed the Russian throne. Heavy is the head that wears the crown... To the unmasking of imposters!

August 10

The U.S. celebrates National Lazy Day, but Russians don’t need any lessons in this regard. Slackers of the world, unite! (If you’re able to get out of bed.)

August 11

In 1928, the USSR held the first “Spartakiad” — a rival to the “capitalist” Olympics, to which the Soviets had not yet been admitted. As they said in the USSR: “O sport, you are peace!” (As mentioned above, the Russian word mir also means “world” — so you have a choice of translations as well as toasts!)

August 12

The Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure (aka Gorky Park) opened in Moscow in 1928. You can't go wrong with a bit of culture and leisure!

August 13

To historical justice! In 1990, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the decree “On the restoration of the rights of all victims of political repression in the 1920-50s” — better late than never.

August 14

Savior of the Honey Feast Day (the best time of the year for honey-lovers). Interesting fact: the Russian word for honey med is related to the English word “mead” and its equivalent in other languages, such as Met in German. Anyone for a tipple?

August 15

In 1893, the Tretyakov Gallery opened its doors in Moscow. To art lovers everywhere!

August 16

The birthday of the author of this calendar! Surely the most important day of the year?

August 17

The Russians conquered the North Pole again (the Arktika icebreaker in 1978). To victory in all its manifestations!

August 18

The first cosmohounds Belka and Strelka made a successful flight into space in 1960. To man’s best friend!

Soviet space dogs Belka and Strelka

August 19

In 1874 the "telnyashka" striped shirt became the official uniform of the Russian Navy. Drinking while wearing one somehow adds to the fun! Read more about the Russian sailors' 'second skin' here.

August 20

Let’s drink from A to Z in honor of the first ABC book published in Russia, way back in 1634.

August 21

The failed coup attempt to turn the Soviet Union away from Gorbachev’s reforms. To democracy and the new world (read more about the putsch here)!

August 22

Day of the National Flag of the Russian Federation.

August 23

The first president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, suspended the activities of the Communist Party (1991). To wise decisions!

August 24

Corporal punishment was abolished in Russia in 1904. Here’s to more carrot and less stick!

August 25

Happy birthday, Russia Beyond!

August 26

Anyone who has seen the cascading fountains of Peterhof (opened in 1723) is unlikely to forget them. To the spectacular scenery of the Russian Versailles!

August 27

Day of Russian Cinema. There’s something for everyone: from Eisenstein and Tarkovsky to Mikhalkov and Zvyagintsev!

August 28

The Dormition of the Mother of God, an important feast for Orthodox Christians.

August 29

In 1698, Peter the Great ordered his subjects to shave their beards and wear European clothes (see April 6 above). To fashion!

August 30

In 1873, Franz Josef Land, Russa’s northernmost territory, was discovered. To World’s End!

A nuclear-powered icebreaker in Tikhaya Bay near Hooker Island, the Franz Josef Land archipelago

August 31

At the start of WWI, St. Petersburg was renamed to the more Russian-sounding Petrograd (1914). To change!


September 1

Knowledge Day, the start of the academic year for all Russian schools and universities.

September 2

The official end of WWII.

September 3

On this day, Russian social media users send each other pics of burning rowan bushes and a gray-bearded man (see here for a much-needed explanation).

September 4

We celebrate the last great geographical discovery, when an expedition led by Boris Vilkitsky aboard the Taimyr and Vaigach icebreakers discovered Nicholas II Land (now Severnaya Zemlya) archipelago on this day in 1913.

September 5

Oil Worker’s Day. To black gold!

September 6

Leningrad reverted back to St. Petersburg. Permanently this time? Let’s hope so.

September 7

The birthday of Moscow (usually celebrated on the first weekend of September). On this day in 1947, marking the 800th anniversary of the city, the cornerstones of Stalin’s seven skyscrapers (known as the Seven Sisters) were simultaneously laid.

Moscow State University's main building under construction

September 8

Day of Military Glory: the Russian army, commanded by Mikhail Kutuzov, faced the Grande Armée in the Battle of Borodino in 1812. Despite the French claiming victory, it marked the beginning of the end for Napoleon’s Russia campaign.

September 9

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves.” Sounds like a toast, doesn’t it? Let’s drink to the birthday of Leo Tolstoy, the author of this aphorism!

September 10

In 1756, Empress Elizaveta Petrovna established the first Russian theater. Today, there are more than a thousand of them. Break a leg!

September 11

Faceted Glass Day: in 1943, the first faceted glass was made in the USSR at the glass factory in the town of Gus-Khrustalny in Vladimir Region. Let’s drink to it and from it!

September 12

In 1698, Peter the Great founded the city of Taganrog on the Sea of Azov, Russia’s first naval base and first planned city. The tsar even considered moving the capital here, not to St Petersburg. To what might have been!

September 13

“Milk [as compensation] for harmfulness” is a Soviet catchphrase still used today. It appeared after the government’s 1965 decree on the distribution of free milk to workers at “harmful” enterprises. To the medicinal benefits of milk!

September 14

In 1812, at the Council in Fili, after the Battle of Borodino, the Russian military took the decision to retreat from Moscow without a fight. See here for details. To wise decisions once more!

The Military Council in Fili

September 15

The Russian probe Zond-5 became the first to fly around the Moon and return to Earth. To space pioneers!

September 16

Ancient Rus-style detox: according to the folk calendar, throwing out the trash on this day brought good luck. We’ll drink to that!

September 17

In 1857, the founding father of rocketry and cosmonautics, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, was born. To the space age!

September 18

“Democracy is not lawlessness,” spoken by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986, became a catchphrase. To democracy!

September 19

According to the folk calendar, we can expect the first frost. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

September 20

The first conservatoire in Russia was founded in 1862 in St. Petersburg. To great music!

September 21

Orthodox Christians celebrate the Nativity of the Theotokos.

September 22

World Car Free Day. Empty roads, great day to drive to the dacha!

September 23

In 1873, in St. Petersburg, the world’s first electric street lighting appeared, replacing kerosene lamps. Let there be (even more) light!

September 24

In 1938, an all-female crew made the first non-stop flight from Moscow to the Russian Far East! To derring-do!

September 25

The first state hospital in Russia was opened (1763, Moscow). To health again!

September 26

World Contraception Day. No kidding (or kids)!

September 27

In 1863, the first kindergarten in Russia was opened in St. Petersburg. Contrary to the above, to children and their educators!

September 28

In 1783, the “Cavalry Maiden” Nadezhda Durova was born, the first known transgender officer to serve in the Russian army. To freedom of choice!

September 29

In 1937, the SSSR-V6 airship set a record for the longest non-stop flight: 130 hours and 27 minutes, covering a distance of 4,800 km. Let’s hope there was a toilet on board. To achieving any goal!

September 30

The birthday of the world’s most famous and best-loved living Russian conceptual artist, Ilya Kabakov. To conceptualism!


October 1

International Day of Older Persons. To grandparents!

Babushkas of the Komi Republic

October 2

Self-taught mechanic Fedor Blinov invented the world’s first caterpillar tractor (1879). To inventors!

October 3

To Rus, birches and fields! In 1895 the patriotic poet Sergey Yesenin was born.

October 4

Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite, was launched by the USSR in 1957. To conquering the heavens!

October 5

World Teachers’ Day. To never-ending learning!

October 6

Nikita Khrushchev’s phrase “Its Majesty, the working class” went viral, giving rise to multiple interpretations, plus the straightforward toast “To the working class!”

October 7

Day of the 1977 Constitution, introduced by Leonid Brezhnev. Instead of reading it, we’ll drink to it!

October 8

On the birthday of the Russian poet and drama queen Marina Tsvetaeva, may your life be less melodramatic with fewer mountains out of molehills! 

October 9

The birthday of one of the most famous Russian artists, the mystic and philosopher Nicholas Roerich. To Russian Zen!

October 10

In 2006, VKontakte (VK), the largest Russian social network and Facebook equivalent, created by Pavel Durov, came on stream. To friends you’ve never met!

October 11

In 1783, Catherine the Great signed a decree establishing the first Russian Academy. To thirst for knowledge!

October 12

At the historic 15th UN General Assembly in 1960, a curious thing happened with Nikita Khrushchev and his shoe (read the truth behind this episode here). To spontaneity!

Nikita Khrushchev speaking at the UN Assembly

October 13

Greenwich, London, was established as the Prime Meridian in 1884. To what every Russian (and other) student knows!

October 14

Orthodox Christians celebrate the Feast of the Intercession of the Theotokos.

October 15

The birthday of Russia’s leading romantic poet Mikhail Lermontov. Let’s drink to eternal love and dream that someone will confess their love to us like the Demon to Tamara.

October 16

In 2022, this will be a new holiday in Russia: Father’s Day.

October 17

Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, today recognized as a masterpiece, was a huge flop when premiered at the Alexandrinsky Theater in St Petersburg in 1896. The writer announced he was done with writing plays, but later had a rethink and created The Cherry Orchard, Uncle Vanya and many other theater classics. To perseverance!

October 18

In 1867, Alaska was sold to the U.S. for the paltry sum of $7.2 million. Let’s raise a toast to it and Hawaii, which also could have been part of Russia.

October 19

Napoleon left Moscow with nothing but the coat on his back. To the strategic thinking of Russian commanders!

October 20

The oldest Moscow circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard (known as Nikulin Circus after the great actor and clown Yuri Nikulin) opened in 1880. Here’s to real life not turning into a circus!

October 21

Take-off of the first aircraft designed by the legendary aeronautical engineer Andrey Tupolev, the experimental ANT-1. To spreading your wings!

October 22

In 1842, Gustav Fabergé opened a jewelry workshop in St Petersburg. To art and craftsmanship!

October 23

In 1958, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Boris Pasternak. In the great writer’s own words, here’s to “grasping the very essence” of everything!

October 24

International Day of Peace. Here’s to the United Nations and to united nations!

October 25

In 1990, the USSR passed a law on freedom of religion. To faith and freedom to the last!

October 26

The first decree of the Bolsheviks, the Decree on Peace (1917), penned by Lenin himself, was to withdraw Russia from WWI. Let’s drink to no more wars!

October 27

In 1984, work began on the “construction project of the century” — the Baikal-Amur Mainline. To great train journeys!

The Baikal-Amur Railroad under construction

October 28

Grandparents’ Day. To health and longevity!

October 29

“And the battle is going again” begins the chorus of the stirring anthem, created on this day, of the Soviet Communist Youth League. To the Komsomol!

October 30

Day of Remembrance for Victims of Political Repression.

October 31

Russians celebrate Halloween too!


November 1

The gloomiest month in Russia, gray and cold. But not the company we keep!

November 2

In 1721, Peter the Great proclaimed Russia an empire and himself as emperor. Vivat!

Peter the Great

November 3

In 1958, Soviet astronomer Nikolay Kozyrev observed the emission of gases on the Moon and suggested the presence of volcanic activity there. To unearthly discoveries!

November 4

National Unity Day (read more about this holiday here) — a day off (that’s the most important bit)!

November 5

In 1929, the Soviet Union’s first planetarium opened in Moscow. To one day reaching the stars!

November 6

The transcontinental polar expedition organized by the newspaper Soviet Russia got underway in 1982. It was the longest journey in the history of Arctic travel, covering 10,000 km. To leaving the comfort zone!

November 7

Day of the October Revolution of 1917 (according to the Gregorian calendar). The anniversary of the Bolshevik takeover was widely celebrated in the USSR and Russia until 1991. Some continue the tradition to this day.

November 8

KVN Day. No, KVN is not a branch of the KGB, but a wildly popular comedy sketch TV show for students. It first hit Soviet screens in 1961 and is still going strong. To fun and laughter!

November 9

The great Russian writer Ivan Turgenev was born on this day in 1818. Let’s drink to fathers and sons (as well as mothers and daughters) always finding a common language!

November 10

Police Day. Let’s have a drink, but not in a public area (illegal in Russia)!

November 11

Another great Russian writer, the incomparable Fyodor Dostoevsky, was born on this day in 1821. His most famous aphorism sounds like a toast: “Beauty will save the world.”

November 12

The Bolsheviks declared the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg a state museum. Great, now we can have a look inside. To the Hermitage!

Inside the Hermitage

November 13

The St. Petersburg–Moscow railway opened in 1851. The journey in those days took 19 hours, today only four. To speed and progress!

November 14

In 1936, the Soviet Union created the Central Weather Institute. Here’s to accurate forecasting and less rain!

November 15

In 1933, the first trolleybus was rolled out in Moscow. Today they are gone, but the nostalgia is palpable.

November 16

Diplomatic relations were established between the USSR and the US (1933). To friendship!

November 17

The cruiser Aurora, which reportedly fired the first shot in the Bolshevik storming of the Winter Palace in 1917, became permanently docked in Leningrad (1948). To historical symbols!

November 18

We celebrate the birthday of Ded Moroz (aka, as mentioned above, Father Frost or the Russian Santa).

November 19

The great scientist and polymath Mikhail Lomonosov, whose name is synonymous with learning (Moscow State University officially bears his name), was born in 1711. According to legend, he walked for nearly a month all the way from his village near Arkhangelsk to Moscow, where he entered an academy. To knowledge and strong footwear!

November 20

In 1815, the Second Treaty of Paris was signed, bringing the Napoleonic Wars to a close. To peace again!

November 21

The Moscow Soviet was established in 1917. To people power!

November 22

Psychologist’s Day. How did they survive in Soviet times without them?!

November 23

Soviet writer Alexander Grin completed his cult story Scarlet Sails in 1922. May dreams always come true!

November 24

According to the folk calendar, this is when the real cold sets in. Hear’s to keeping warm both outside and on the inside!

November 25

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Hear, hear. To the fairer sex — our favorite toast!

November 26

Mother’s Day in Russia!

November 27

To marine infantry (today is their professional holiday)! The Nazis nicknamed these guys the “Black Death” — read about their most dating operations here.

Servicemen of the Russian Pacific Fleet's Naval Infantry perform at the opening of Vladivostok's Patriot Park of the Russian Defence Ministry

November 28

The poet Alexander Blok was born in 1880, one of the main figures of Russian literature’s Silver Age. Every Russian knows his surname, if not quite every poem.

November 29

In 1783, the Russian Academy approved a new letter of the Russian alphabet: ё (pronounced “yo”). To the rich and sonorous Russian language!

November 30

We bid farewell to the fall!


December 1

On this day in 1896, the great Soviet commander Georgy Zhukov was born. Thanks to him, we defeated fascism.

December 2

It is customary for Russians to celebrate and drink to their friends’ successes. The Soviet Union’s one-time friend, Fidel Castro, became president of Cuba on this day in 1976. Viva la Cuba!

December 3

Day of the Unknown Soldier in memory of Russian soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. On this day in 1966, the remains of the Unknown Soldier were buried by the Kremlin wall, and the Eternal Flame memorial was lit, never to be extinguished.

December 4

Let’s drink to the Soviet car industry (no, seriously): on this day in 1946, the first passenger car for the Soviet masses, the Moskvitch 400 rolled off the production line at the MZMA plant.

December 5

To the peaceful atom! In 1957, the USSR launched the Lenin nuclear icebreaker. That fact will break the ice at any party.

A nuclear-powered icebreaker Lenin moving through the ice

December 6

According to the folk calendar, on this day people traditionally created toboggan tracks in the snow and brewed beer. Who are we to break with age-old customs!

December 7

This is both the joke Drinking Buddy Day and the more serious day of the founding of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (in 1764 by Catherine the Great). Each to their own!

December 8

On this day in 1991, the USSR died, but the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was born. Although its members are diminished in number and status, it’s always a pleasure to drink to unity.

December 9

In 2007, the pre-revolutionary Heroes of the Fatherland Day was restored in Russia. To heroes! So many to choose from...

December 10

Russian Emperor Paul I became... the Grand Master of the Order of Malta! To making the impossible possible!

December 11

On the birthday of Nobel literature laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn, let’s drink to no more Gulag archipelagos ever again.

December 12

Russian Constitution Day. In 1993, after the Soviet collapse, the first constitution of the Russian Federation was adopted by popular vote. Today it is a public holiday.

December 13

The most daring escape from the USSR: in 1974, oceanographer Stanislav Kurilov jumped from a cruise liner and swam 100 km (!) to safety. Here’s to not having to flee one’s own homeland.

December 14

In 1943, the new Soviet national anthem was approved. The lyrics were written by Sergei Mikhalkov and Gabriel El-Registan, the music by Alexander Alexandrov. The sheer power of Alexandrov’s score makes you want to stand up straight and raise a glass — just listen.

December 15

Remembrance Day of Journalists Killed in the Line of Duty. We solemnly drink a toast out of respect and solidarity.

December 16

Ivan Molchalnik (Saint John the Silent) Day, or Day of Quiet and Silence. A folk superstition says that if you speak less on this day, you will be blessed with eloquence for the rest of the year. To the sound of silence!

December 17

On this day, the poet and child prodigy Nika Turbina was born. To all gifted people!

December 18

In 1892, Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s legendary ballet The Nutcracker premiered in St Petersburg. Since then, any reference to this fairy-tale character always evokes the spirit and magic of Christmas and New Year. To the coming holidays!

December 19

In 1906, Leonid Brezhnev, Soviet leader from 1964 to 1982, was born. His name is today associated with economic stagnation, but also nostalgia for seemingly more innocent times.

Leonid Brezhnev takes a boat trip

December 20

International Human Solidarity Day. To fundamental values!

December 21

The winter solstice. To the shortest day and longest night!

December 22

The first postage stamp in Russia was issued in 1857. To connecting people!

December 23

On this day, the USSR made January 1 an official day off. That’s worth celebrating!

December 24

“May the Spark kindle a flame!” The epigraph of the underground revolutionary newspaper Iskra (Spark), and an appropriate toast on the anniversary of the first issue.

December 25

Christmas Day for all Catholics, Protestants and even some Orthodox!

December 26

In 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Some mourn the loss, while others are glad to see the back of a 70-year nightmare.

December 27

Emergency Rescuer’s Day. To life-savers!

December 28

Let’s drink (without clinking glasses as a mark of respect) to the poet Sergei Yesenin, who died on this day in 1925 (officially recorded as suicide).

December 29

Catherine the Great introduced paper currency in Russia in 1768. Here’s to printing money! 

December 30

The USSR was signed into existence in 1922. Ninety-nine years later, there are still plenty of admirers willing to toast its undying memory.

December 31

Not much happening today... Only kidding! From morning onwards, the day is spent making salads, cooking jellied meat and preparing the festive table. Or, like the antihero in the classic Soviet New Year film The Irony of Fate, going to the banya (bathhouse) with your buddies. Just be careful — don’t accidentally board a plane to Leningrad! 

Happy New Year!

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