Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

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

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

The Democratic Alliance and illiberal liberalism’s glass ceiling

The DA appears to have abandoned its ambitions of 2016 and is set to lose further ground in the upcoming elections

Canna-business deal for Ingonyama Trust land

Foreign investment has been lined up for a joint venture with the Ingonyama Trust Board, which administers tribal land for the Zulu monarch

More top stories

The Democratic Alliance and illiberal liberalism’s glass ceiling

The DA appears to have abandoned its ambitions of 2016 and is set to lose further ground in the upcoming elections

ANC Durban election candidate shot dead while on door-to-door campaign

One other man was shot dead and two others were rushed to hospital with gunshot wounds

Rule of law drops globally, including in South Africa

Security and corruption prevents the country from ranking higher on the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index for 2021

Slice of life: ‘I can read nine or 10 books...

David van der Westhuizen, a street bookseller based at the KwaZulu-Natal Society of the Arts Gallery in Durban, tells Paddy Harper how he survives unemployment
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×