Girl in traditional Soviet school uniform

The Day of Knowledge is traditionally celebrated on the first of September in Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet countries. This day was announced a holiday back in Soviet time, in 1984.

For Russian girls and boys that start in a first grade it is a holiday of the First Bell – the very first time that a school bell rings for them. For the rest – other pupils and teachers – it’s a celebration of the beginning of a new school year.

Even though it is a holiday, pupils have to attend school anyway. Traditionally the day starts with a ceremonial parade at school, where school’s director welcomes new and old pupils and congratulates everybody with the beginning of the school year.

After director’s speech, a boy in his final year carries a girl from the first grade on his shoulder around the schoolyard; the girl rings an old-fashioned bell, announcing the First Bell of this school year.

Most schools arrange special performances for this day: some pupils read poetry, dedicated to this day, from a stage; other pupils make dance performances; all accompanied by an orchestra to add solemnity to the event.

This day is always full of flowers: pupils and their parents present teachers with big bouquets of autumn flowers, cards and some also present gifts that were hand made.

After the parade everybody goes into the school, where the first lesson of the year is held. Normally this lesson is dedicated to social matters, knowledge and nature.

This day is most important for the pupils that attend school for the first time in their life; it is their first big step towards knowledge and independence. For a Russian woman, a mother, it is a very proud moment. Normally both parents and kids wait for this day with excitement, filled with hope and expectations.


The First Bell of the school year in Russia

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