September 11, 2021

Don't Forget Your Flowers and Bows


Don't Forget Your Flowers and Bows
Those bows! The first day of school in 2011 – but don't worry, the outfits have not changed since then. Panoramio user aadmitriew

The first day of school is a national holiday in Russia. Called the Day of Knowledge, every September 1 is met with great fanfare and the biggest bows you will see anywhere in the world.

The holiday is the biggest deal for children entering first grade and their families. After typically three years of daycare/preschool/kindergarten (detsky sad), six- and seven-year-olds head to school on September 1 as if they are starring in a beauty pageant. Boys wear their first suits (with ties!), girls wear black-and-white dresses with big white bows – the bigger the better – and all pupils bring bouquets of flowers for their teachers. We have no idea how teachers are supposed to get 30 bouquets home and into vases.

Those fancy clothes become the uniform for the rest of the year. According to statistics bureau Rosstat, a full set of school supplies for first-graders costs about 18,800 rubles ($255) for boys and 23,200 rubles ($315) for girls. For some families with one working parent, that is close to one full month's salary.

In the Soviet Union, the first day of school was elevated to the status of a religious holiday in another country. The Day of Knowledge became an official holiday in 1984. But a standardized first day of school, the first of September, was codified in the Soviet Union as early as 1930.

If September 1 falls on a Sunday, then the holiday will be observed on the following day. September 1 also marks the first day of fall, with government decrees choosing when the seasons change rather than the planet's cycles.

We just hope that you feel as positive about the start of school as this 1st grader, here.

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