Press Releases

The Memorial Day of the Baptism of Rus is a New Holiday in Russia

August 3, 2010

President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, signed a law on the introduction of a new holiday – the Memorial Day of the Baptism of Rus, which will be observed on July 28th. Earlier, the law, which was drawn up by the Ministry of Culture, had been approved by the State Duma and ratified by the Federation Council. The new holiday will be treated on a par with the Days of Military Honor, and thus, will not be a non-working holiday.

It was the Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate who proposed the establishment of this holiday as a day of remembrance. In June 2008, the Primates' Council of the ROC-MP decided that a Great Feast service should be held on the day of St. Prince Vladimir, July 28; and it likewise appealed to the state leadership of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus "with a proposal to include the Day of St. Prince Vladimir in the count of official days of remembrance observed by public celebrations."

Events in connection with the Day of the Baptism of Rus will by financed through the federal budget. The Days of Military Honor and remembrance days are not non-working public holidays.

In the ethnically and religiously diverse state of Russia, a major debate has developed surrounding the new holiday.

The official point of view of the ROC-MP was expressed by Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the representative of the Synodal Office for Cooperation between Church and Society, who stated: "Like it or not, the role that Orthodoxy has played in the creation of Russia is unique. To any unbiased person, including from the West, it is obvious that the Russian mentality was created by Orthodoxy; and for this reason, the Day of the Christianization of Rus is the day from which our culture and identity mark their beginning."

Meanwhile, Amir Gallyamov, a senator from Amur Oblast, pointed out that "in May of 922, that is to say 66 years before Rus was christianized, Volga Bulgaria, situated on the territory of Russia, accepted Islam." In his opinion, the events of this date also deserve to be commemorated.

At its June 9th session, the deputies of the State Council of Tatarstan passed, by majority vote, an appeal to the State Duma of the Russian Federation regarding the introduction of a new date into the list of Russian commemorative holidays—the Day of the Acceptance of Islam in Russia.

In the opinion of the President of the Islamic Cultural Center of Russia, Abdul-Wahed Niyazov, "the actions that the state has taken as a sign of respect to the main faith should be balanced by some kind of reciprocal action on behalf of traditional faiths that are now minority religions."

The introduction of the new holiday was called a "political decision" by Aleksey Smirnov, a representative of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists. In his opinion, "this date will exist inasmuch as ours is a de facto Orthodox state. But this particular holiday is, above all, a religious one, seeing as only a believer understands the meaning and the idea of baptism." Aleskey Smirnov warned not to overstimate the meaning of the holiday if it is not to be accompanied by the appropriate educational support: "It is important for the Orthodox Church to take on the responsibility to communicate the evangelical significance of the baptism, so that people understand what it is and why it took place. It is a pity that such a lack of understanding often accompanies even the basic Christian holidays—Easter and Christmas."

Slavic Center for Law and Justice
Copyrightę2006, SCLJ
Privacy Policy