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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Russia Series at RussianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Russian holidays and observances. I’m Jenny, and you're listening to Season 1 Lesson 19 - Knowledge Day.
One of the most important holidays for all grade school and University students is Knowledge Day, which in Russian is День знаний (Den' znaniy). This holiday marks the start of the new school year and is celebrated every year on September 1.
In this lesson, we will take a look at the traditions of this wonderful holiday.
Now, before we go into more detail, we’ve got a question for you-
When were the first official professional state schools established in Russia?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep listening.
The date of the first day of the school year has varied greatly throughout Russian history. However, in 1935, September 1 was permanently made the official date, marking the beginning of the school year at all educational institutions in the Soviet Union. On this day, grade school students advance to the next grade, and university students advance to the next level. Since then, in every country of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the new school year has begun on this day.
On September 1, all schools hold a festive assembly ceremony, known as “First Bell”, or in Russian Первый звонок (Pervyy zvanok). During this assembly, all students line up in the schoolyard in a certain order according to their grades. Traditionally, a student from a higher grade picks up a first-grade student, usually a girl, who is holding a bell and walks around the schoolyard with her in his arms. The bell’s chime is the first bell of the new school year.
The festive assembly is often attended by parents and relatives, especially those of the first-grade students. On that day, the graduating students congratulate the first-graders on their very first school bell, giving them flowers and some words of wisdom. Knowledge Day is a holiday for the teachers as well, and they typically receive flowers from both parents and students.
Very often, the “First Bell” ceremony has its own concert program with songs and dances put on by gifted students from the school.
So, returning to our quiz, do you know when the first official professional state schools were established in Russia?
The very first state professional schools in Russia appeared during the reign of Peter I and were created to educate boys aged 12-17. The first such school taught mathematics and engineering. Education was free, and the state provided living and food allowances to children from poor families.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn something new?
Is Knowledge Day celebrated in your country?
Leave a comment at RussianPod101.com, and I’ll see you in the next lesson!