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Russia stakes out national identity with calendar

A Russian nationalist lawmaker has proposed a law switching the country back to the pre-revolutionary Julian calendar as a way of reasserting Russia’s national identity.

Alexander Fomenko said the modern Gregorian calendar used throughout the Christian world was thrust on Russia a century ago in a ”cruel Westernising project” and it was now time the country turned back to its traditional roots.

The Julian calendar lags behind its Gregorian equivalent so, for example, the modern New Year’s Day falls on January 14 in the older calendar. Fomenko’s proposal is almost certain to be voted down when Parliament debates it later this year, but it does chime in with other, more mainstream, initiatives to weed out Western cultural imports.

Parliament has instructed government officials not to use the world ”dollar” when they could have said ”rouble”.

And the government is funding a programme to improve spoken Russian by, among other things, finding alternatives to borrowed foreign words like ”menedzher,” ”resepshn” and ”parkovat,” a commonly used verb for to park.

Russia has a particular attachment to the Julian calendar because the Orthodox church, enjoying a revival since the end of communist rule in 1991, still celebrates key religious holidays on the old dates.

Russians mark the modern New Year on January 1 and then, under the Julian calendar, celebrated Orthodox Christmas on January 7 and the ”Old New Year” on January 14.

Russia kept the Julian calendar until it was scrapped soon after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. ”The Bolshevik revolution was the most cruel Westernising project in our history implemented on traditional Russian culture,” said Fomenko, from the small Peoples’ Will-SEPR-Patriots of Russia faction in Parliament.

”And now, after 15 years of coming back from this Westernising project … Russia wants to be something special,” he told Reuters.

”If you consider Russia a separate cultural-historical world, then it is completely natural for it to preserve its traditional calendar.” – Reuters

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