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День знаний: Russian Education System’s First Day of School

In Russian culture, education is put on a high pedestal, and the Russian education system reflects this each year on the country’s Day of Knowledge (or День знаний in Russian). To Russia, the first day of school ceremonies are an essential part of keeping children interested and excited for each new year at school—after all, kids won’t really learn anything if they’re not excited to, right?

This holiday is especially unique to Russia’s culture, considering the fact that there’s no International Day of Knowledge (though other countries do have similarly themed holidays).

In this article, you’ll learn about the history behind the Day of Knowledge in Russia, as well as gain insight into how Russia gets its kids excited for a new year of learning.

At, we hope to make this exploration into Russian culture both fun and informative!

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1. What is the Russian Day of Knowledge?

Simply put, the Day of Knowledge in Russia is the first day of school.

In the past, Russia’s school year started at different times of the year. But in 1935, September 1 was permanently made the date when the school year starts for all educational institutions in the Soviet Union.

On Knowledge Day, Russian students advance to the next grade, and university students advance to the next level. Since the creation of Russia’s National Day of Knowledge, every country of the CIS starts the new school year on this day.

2. When is Russia’s First Day of School Each Year?

Knowledge Day is on September 1

Each year, Russians observe Knowledge Day on September 1.

3. Day of Knowledge Traditions & Events

On this September 1 holiday, all schools hold a festive assembly-ceremony known as “First Bell,” during which the students line up in the schoolyard, ordered according to what grade they’re entering. Traditionally, an older student will pick up a new first-grader who is holding a bell in hand, and walk around the schoolyard while the first-grader rings the bell. This marks the first bell of the Russian school year.

Parents and relatives often attend this festive assembly, especially those of the first-grade students. Students who are graduating congratulate the new first-graders on their first school bell; this often includes giving them flowers and offering them parting words or words of encouragement. On Knowledge Day, even teachers get a day off; parents and students often gift them with flowers..

Very often, the festive “First Bell” ceremony has its own concert program, with songs and dances put on by gifted students from the school.

4. Russia’s First Professional School

Group of Children Studying

Do you know when Russia’s first professional state school was established?

It was during the reign of Peter I that Russia opened its first state professional schools. These were meant for twelve- to seventeen-year-old boys, and specifically taught mathematics and engineering. These boys were allowed a free education, and the state even went as far as to provide living and food allowances for the poorer children.

5. Useful Vocabulary for Knowledge Day in Russia

Human Brain

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Knowledge Day in Russia!

  • Школа (Shkola) — “School”
  • Учебник (Uchebnik) — “Texbook”
  • Цветок (Tsvetok) — “Flower”
  • День знаний (Den` znaniy) — “Day of Knowledge”
  • Торжественная линейка (Tarzhestvennaya lineyka) — “solemn ceremony”
  • Первое сентября (Pervaye sentyabrya) — “September 1”
  • Открытый урок (Atkrytyy urok) — “Open class”
  • Знание (Znaniye) — “Knowledge”
  • Первоклассник (Pervaklasnik) — “Freshman”
  • Первый класс (Pervyy klas) — “First grade”
  • Классный руководитель (Klassnyy rukavaditel’) — “Class teacher”
  • первый звонок (Pervyy zvanok) — “First bell”
  • Бант (Bant) — “Bowknot”

To hear each of these Day of Knowledge vocabulary words pronounced and accompanied by images, check out our relevant vocabulary list!

How RussianPod101 Can Help You Learn About Russian Culture

What do you think about the Day of Knowledge in Russia? Does your country have any events or celebrations to make children more excited about school? Tell us about it in the comments; we always look forward to hearing from you!

To continue delving into Russia’s unique culture and studying the language, explore We have an array of fun and effective learning tools for every type of learner, at every level:

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At RussianPod101, we hope to make every aspect of learning Russian as enjoyable and simple as possible. We hope you’ll take us along for the ride as you continue mastering the language—with our tools and support, plus your hard work and determination, you really can get there!

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