Russian Flag Day is every 22 August. The celebrations each year only get better! And they should. Today marks the anniversary of a modern, independent Russia after a failed coup by hardliners and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. What does the national flag have to do with this watershed moment in history? It turns out, everything! It’s a no-brainer that national flags symbolize the essence of a nation. But you know the story will be doubly intriguing when it involves Russia and how the national flag came to be. Those innocuous white, blue, and red stripes are symbols of the country’s evolution through history. Russia goes all out every year and celebrates the day with lectures, concerts, exhibitions, and state events.
History of Russian Flag Day
When Peter I ascended the throne, the Russian flag became the carrier of his ambitions to turn Russia into a modern state. One of his dreams was to build a powerful Russian navy. So, the monarch traveled to the Netherlands, where he learned state-of-the-art shipbuilding. In the 17th century, he chose a flag for Russian merchant ships that resembled the Dutch tricolor — red, white, and blue. The Russian flag’s stripes arrangement was white, blue, and red.
Fast forward to the Soviet era, and the Russian flag looked remarkably different. The new color represented ideologies based on the Red Banner or the people’s uprising. The official state flag had a sickle, gold hammer, and a red star.
Discontent grew as cracks began to appear in the armor of the Soviet Union. While the government exercised strict control, it lacked a cohesive vision for the people. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power. He implemented a comprehensive economic reform plan to rescue the Soviet Union’s economy. Gorbachev’s efforts did not go down well with communist party headliners, who once enjoyed absolute influence and power.
In 1991, the group forcibly seized control of the country from Gorbachev and held him captive. They went so far as to declare Gorbachev “indisposed” and, therefore, unfit to govern. It was a fatal miscalculation. Following the announcement, protests erupted in the Soviet Union, uniting the nation like never before. Even the armed soldiers deployed to crush the rebellion refused to kill fellow citizens. The coup had failed, resulting in the sure disintegration of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev returned to Moscow but resigned that same year, leaving Boris Yeltsin as the President of a new Russia. Yeltsin restored the Russian tricolor to its former glory by introducing Flag Day.
Russian Flag Day timeline
The red, white, and blue colors fly for the first time on a Russian warship during the reign of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich.
Nicholas II formally approves the present color scheme of the Russian flag.
The French Revolution’s red flag becomes an enduring symbol of popular revolt.
The Soviet Union’s sickle-and-hammer flag flies for the last time and the tricolor is reinstated.
Russian Flag Day FAQs
What is the National Day in Russia?
Russia celebrates National Day on June 12. The day commemorates the formal declaration of Russian independence from the Soviet Union in 1990.
How old is the Russian flag?
The country formally adopted the white-blue-red tricolors on August 21, 1991, a few months before the official dissolution of the Soviet Union. However, the origins of the tricolor pre-date the modern Russian state by centuries.
What is the biggest holiday in Russia?
Russia celebrates New Year’s Day on January 1 and once again on January 14. The second date corresponds with the Julian Calendar that the Russians used till 1918.
How to Observe Russian Flag Day
Join the festivities
National Flag Day may not be a day off, but it’s still a party in Moscow. Attend concerts, performances, and other festivities in the city today.
Wear the colors
Observe National Flag Day in spirit. Sport one, two, or all three colors in the Russian flag today.
Have a Russian-inspired movie night
From war movies to biopics, take your pick of films based on Russia. Settle in with friends, or by yourself, for hours of immersive viewing.
5 Facts About Russia That Will Blow Your Mind
Rich in oil and gas reserves
59% of the country’s exports comprise oil and gas.
A country of billionaires
Moscow features high on the list of global cities with the most billionaires.
Telling time in Russia is complicated
Russia has 11 time zones, more than any other country on the planet.
Water or vodka — same difference
The Russian word for vodka is “Vodka,” which means water.
The largest country in the world
The country covers an area of 17 million square kilometers.
Why Russian Flag Day is Important
The essence of a nation
We know that national flags capture the spirit of a country. But few carry the complexities and weight of history the way the Russian flag does.
A symbol of unity
National Flag Day in Russia is a day of hope. It’s a reminder of what’s possible when people unite for a cause.
There’s something about national flags. The sight of them fluttering in the wind can evoke emotion in even the most jaded beings.
Russian Flag Day dates