Russian Words: Holidays

Victory Day Military Parade Immortal Regiment March In Moscow
Victory Day Immortal Regiment March to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the victory in WWII in Red Square on May 9, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. Thousands of people with portraits of WWII veterans marched in the streets of Central Moscow to commemorate their relatives and friends. Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images

Russian holidays range from religious festivities to civic celebrations and traditional ceremonies. Officially, there are 14 bank holidays, with eight of them taking place in January for the New Year and Orthodox Christmas celebrations. Other unofficial holidays are also widely celebrated, such as September 1 (the first day of the academic year) and January 14 (the Old New Year). The following lists of Russian words for holidays can help you participate in this unique culture.

Новый Год (The New Year)

Arguably the most lavish and popular Russian holiday, the New Year is celebrated on New Year's Eve and continues for six days, when the Orthodox Christmas takes over. Every day between January 1 and January 6 is a bank holiday in Russia.

Russian Word English Word Pronunciation Example
Дед Мороз Father Christmas dyet maROS Приехали Дед Мороз и Снегурочка (priYEhali dyet maROS y snyGOOrachka)
- Father Christmas and Snow Maiden have arrived
Ёлка Christmas tree YOLka Наряжаем ёлку (naryaZHAyem YOLkoo)
- We are decorating the Christmas tree
Подарки Gifts paDARky Подарки под ёлкой (paDARki pad YOLkai)
- Presents under the tree
Праздничный стол Dinner/feast PRAZnichniy STOL Накрыли праздничный стол (naKRYli PRAZnichniy STOL)
- The table is set for the feast
Застолье Holiday meal/feast zaSTOL'ye Приглашаем на застолье (priglaSHAyem na zaSTOL'ye)
- You're invited to the holiday meal
Ёлочные игрушки Christmas tree decorations YOlachniye eegROOSHki Где ёлочные игрушки? (gdye YOlachniye eegROOSHki)
-Where are the Christmas tree decorations?
Куранты Chimes/clock kooRANty Бой курантов (boy kooRANtaf)
- The sound of the Kremlin chimes
Обращение президента President's address abraSHYEniye pryzyDYENta Началось обращение президента (nachaLOS' abraSHYEniye pryzyDYENta)
- The president's address has begun

Рождество (Christmas)

The Russian Orthodox Christmas Eve is on January 6. Traditionally, this is a time of fortune-telling and connecting with loved ones. Many Russians go to church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Russian Word English Word Pronunciation Example
С Рождеством Merry Christmas srazhdystVOM С Рождеством вас! (srazhdystVOM vas)
- Merry Christmas to you!
С Рождеством Христовым Merry Christmas srazhdystVOM hrisTOvym Поздравляю с Рождеством Христовым (pazdravLYAyu srazhdystVOM hrisTOvym)
- Merry Christmas
Гадание Divination gaDAniye рождественские  гадания (razhDESTvenskiye gaDAniya)
- Christmas fortune-telling
Пост A fast pohst До Рождества пост (da razhdystVA pohst)
- The fast lasts until Christmas
Поститься To fast pasTEETsa Ты будешь поститься? (ty BOOdesh pasTEETsa)
- Will you be fasting?
Рождественская трапеза Christmas dinner/meal razhDYEStvynskaya TRApyza Вечером будет рождественская трапеза (VYEcheram BOOdet razhDYESTvynskaya TRApyza)
- Christmas dinner will be in the evening.
Сочельник Christmas Eve saCHEL'nik Завтра сочельник (ZAFTra saCHEL'nik)
- Tomorrow is Christmas Eve

Старый Новый Год (Old New Year)

Although this holiday is not officially a day off, Russians like to enjoy a final New Year celebration on this day, often with a special dinner and small gifts.

Russian Word English Word Pronunciation Example
Праздник Celebration/holiday PRAZnik Сегодня праздник (syVODnya PRAZnik)
- Today is a holiday
Отдыхать To relax, to have fun atdyHAT' Все отдыхают (vsye atdyHAHyut)
- Everyone is relaxing
Сюрприз Surprise/gift surPREEZ У меня для тебя сюрприз (oo myNYA dlya tyBYA surPREEZ)
- I got you a gift
Вареники Vareniki/dumplings vaREniki Обожаю вареники (abaZHAyu vaREniki)
- I love dumplings

Масленица (Maslenitsa)

This traditional Russian holiday, similar to festivities held before Lent in the West, is widely celebrated in Russia with a week of pancakes, games, and activities such as chain dancing, jumping over a bonfire, and burning the straw doll of Maslenitsa.

Russian Word English Word Pronunciation Example
Блины Pancakes bleeNYY Мы печём блины (my pyCHOM bleeNYY)
- We are making pancakes
Хоровод Circle/chain dance haraVOT Люди водят хороводы (LYUdi VOdyat haraVOdy)
- People are chain dancing
Костёр Bonfire kasTYOR Прыгать через костёр (PRYgat' CHErez kasTYOR)
- To jump over the bonfire
Чучело Maslenitsa doll/effigy CHOOchyla Жгут чучело (zhgoot CHOOchyla)
- They are burning the straw doll
Песни и пляски Singing and dancing PYESni ee PLYASki Вокруг песни и пляски (vaKROOK PYESni ee PLYASki)
- There is singing and dancing everywhere

День Победы (Victory Day)

Almost as lavish as the New Year but tinged with a solemn mood, Victory Day celebrates the Russian defeat of Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.

Russian Word English Word Pronunciation Example
Победа Victory paBYEda Поздравляем с нашей победой (pazdravLYAem s NAshei paBYEdai)
- Congratulations on our victory
Парад Parade paRAT Идёт парад (eeDYOT paRAT)
- The parade is on
Марш March marsh Торжественный марш (tarZHESTveniy marsh)
- A solemn march
Салют Salute saLYUT Салют в честь ветеранов (saLYUT f chest' veteRAnaf)
- A salute in honor of the veterans
Война War vaiNAH Великая Отечественная война (vyLEEkaya aTYEchystvynnaya vaiNAH)
- The Great Patriotic War
Ветеран Veteran veteRAN Поздравляют ветеранов (pazdravLYAyut veteRAnaf)
- They are congratulating the veterans

День Знаний (Knowledge Day)

Not officially a day off, September 1 celebrates the first day of the academic year. All schools and colleges open on this day. Schools hold a celebratory assembly outside.

Russian Word English Word Pronunciation Examples
Школа School SHKOlah Школьная линейка (SHKOL'naya liNEIka)
- School assembly
Школьник/школьница Pupil SHKOL'nik/SHKOL'nitsa Школьники дарят цветы (SHKOL'niki DAryat tsveTY)
- Pupils bring flowers
Учитель/учительница Teacher ooCHEEtel'/ooCHEEtel'nitsa Это - моя учительница (EHta maYA ooCHEEtel'nitsa)
- This is my teacher
Образование Education abrazaVAniye Получить образование (palooCHEET abrazaVAniye)
- To receive one's education
Учебник School book ooCHEBnik Учебник по английскому (ooCHEBnik pa angLEESkamoo)
- An English school book
Тетрадь Notebook, exercise book tytRAT' Новая тетрадь (NOvaya tytRAT')
- A new notebook
Студент/студентка Student stooDENT/stooDENTka Студенты гуляют по городу (stooDENty gooLYAyut pa GOradoo)
- Students are having fun in the streets
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Your Citation
Nikitina, Maia. "Russian Words: Holidays." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2020, Nikitina, Maia. (2020, August 29). Russian Words: Holidays. Retrieved from Nikitina, Maia. "Russian Words: Holidays." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 25, 2023).