Knowledge Day

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A typical knowledge day in Russia

Knowledge Day (Russian: День Знаний), often simply called 1 September, is the day when the school year traditionally starts in Russia and many other former Soviet republics as well as other countries in the former Eastern Bloc (excluding Romania which falls on September 11 and the former East Germany varies in a coordinated fashion.)


Knowledge Day originated in the USSR, where it had been established by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of June 15, 1984,[1] and celebrated annually on 1 September.[2] This day also marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. It has special significance for the incoming class of first graders who come to school for the first time and often participate in a celebratory assembly on this date. The day also involves the First Bell (Первый Звонок) where a first grade girl is lifted on the shoulders of an 11th grade male pupil, and paraded around, ringing the first bell of the school year. Students in other grades may begin studies on September 1 or a few days later, usually without any special festivities.

In towns and villages, well-dressed students arrive at school with a bunch of flowers. The celebration begins when children stand in line and are welcomed by the director of the school and the teachers. Senior students read poetry and perform songs and the "Первый звонок" (first bell) rings for the new comers. Older pupils hold the hands of younger ones and take them to class, nicely encouraging them. In Russia, they say "Азбука – наука, а ребятам бука" (The alphabet is a science, but it’s a bogeyman for children!).[3]

September 1 has an iconic cultural status in the Russian-speaking world and is immediately recognized there primarily in connection with beginning of the school year. For instance, a well-known rhymed slogan is 1st of September is the red day in the calendar ("red" meaning special, первое сентября - красный день календаря).

There is also "Last School-Bell Day" (End of the year).


  1. ^ "Day of Knowledge – beginning of the school year". 
  2. ^ USSR'88 Yearbook. Novosti Press Agency Publishing House. 1988. 
  3. ^ "Russian Day of Knowledge". 

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