‘City Day’ holiday in Moscow

By Slava Tsukerman

Moscow’s City Day is an annual city festival celebrated on the first Saturday of September. There are folk festivals and concerts all over the city.

City Day was celebrated for the first time in 1847 on the 700th anniversary of the city. A hundred years later, in 1947, Stalin ordered the celebration of the 800th anniversary of Moscow in a big way. But now a days it has taken on a special political significance.

It was the most impressive event of my childhood. Red flags and portraits of the leaders were hung throughout the city. In the evening, thousands of the buildings in the center of Moscow were illuminated. The day culminated with grandiose fireworks.

Two years after this initial glorification of Moscow, Nikita Khruschev was appointed the head of the Moscow City Party Committee. In 1953, after Stalin’s death, Khrushchev becomes head of the Soviet state.  Some kind of a tradition, connecting the celebration of Moscow City Day, the position of the Moscow Mayor, and the position of the head of state had been born.

In 1986, Boris Yeltsin, who was then the head of Moscow City Party Committee, decided to celebrate Moscow City Day on a regular basis at the beginning of September.  Then in 1990 he became the head of Russian government.

In September 1997, under Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, a grand celebration of the 850th anniversary of Moscow was organized. I happened to be then in Moscow. The grandiose show took place in the Read Square. Luzhkov, who obviously hoped to become the future president of Russia, entered the square on a white horse with a sword in his right hand and successfully slew the huge puppet of dragon, the symbol of all the enemies of Russia.

But Luzhkov hasn’t managed to fulfill his dream, being fired by Dmitry Medvedev, then resident, backed by the real ruler – Vladimir Putin.

He was replaced as a Moscow Mayor by a seasoned executive Sergey Sobianin, efficient and extremely loyal to Putin. Russian media immediately started discussing the possibility of Sabianin becoming the future inheritor of Putin’s power, appointed by Putin, the same way as Putin was appointed by Yeltsin.

This year Moscow celbrated its 867th ​​anniversary. Holiday events  were held on the weekend of September 6 and 7. In spite of the tragic events in Ukraine, influencing mood of Muscovites, this year the festival was especially grandiose and joyful.

The festival started from the concert in the Red Square, attended by the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill, Prime Minister Medvedev, and Moscow Mayor Sabianin. Both prime minister and mayor gave long speeches.

About six million people attended the events of the festival. Fifteen thousand police officers, members of the internal troops, and volunteers were involved in keeping order in the city. Many streets and squares were closed for traffic and turned into pedestrian walk ways.

There were organized recreation areas with cots, artificial lawns, and shopping arcades.

Moscow residents and tourists could visit ten museums, attend numerous concerts by Russian and foreign stars, participate in three carnival processions, and take part in flash mobs and master classes.

Artists from 14 countries participated in the International Festival of the Street Art and Creativity “Bright People”.

Also during the holidays in Moscow the International Military Music Festival “Spasskaya Tower” took place. Russian and foreign military orchestras played in the eight Moscow parks and paraded in the Red Square.

The celebration was concluded with the International Fireworks Festival, which took place in 19 different location of Moscow!

The First Channel, the most popular TV station in the country, broadcasted the coverage of the festivities all day long. At the prime time,  it was interrupted by a  speech by the Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobianin.

It triggers a question: could it be a kind of introduction to the whole Russia of the future candidate for the presidency?

Some think that Russia can exit the new political crisis only by a change of the president. And Sobianin, loyal to Putin and seemingly free of any accusations of corruption, looks like a logical choice.

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Updated: September 18, 2014 — 9:52 am

1 Comment

  1. This year Russians celebrate Moscow city days at 5th and 6th of September. The main events are free Aerosmith and John Newman gigs. For more details check page http://ruscow.com/events/moscow-city-days

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