UN Russian Language Day coincides with the birthday of Aleksandr Pushkin on June 6, a Russian poet considered the father of modern Russian literature.
Russian is a Slavic language, whose closest relatives are Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Rusyn (Ukraine and Slovenia). In the 19th century, what we now classify as modern Russian was known as “Great Russian.” Belarusian was called “White Russian,” and Ukrainian was “Little Russian.” Today over 170 million people speak Russian.
UNESCO established this day in 2010.
Russian Language Day timeline
The Slav people migrate from old Poland.
Writing and speaking of the Russian language begins in the kingdom of Kievan Rus’.
Tsar Peter the Great reforms the language, seeking to modernize Russian.
The newly formed Union of Soviet Socialist Republics dramatically reforms the language into the Russian that exists today.
Russian Language Day Activities
Throw a Russian-themed dinner party
While Russian cuisine may not be as celebrated as French or as ripe for entertainment as British, it has some gems. See if you can find a Russian cookbook, and then invite your friends for a night of food and fun — and vodka.
Read some Russian literature
Tolstoy and Dostoevsky stand out, of course, but also check out "Day of the Oprichnik" by Vladimir Sorokin, or "The Secret History of Moscow" by Ekaterina Sedia. As for movies, "Night Watch" is a modern fantasy thriller, while "The Diamond Arm" is an excellent comedy. (Yes, the Russians do know how to do comedy!)
Learn Russian words...
...and try to get beyond "Moskovskaya Osobaya," — which is one of the oldest Russian vodka brands – going all the way back to the Russian Empire.
Why We Love Russian Language Day
It’s arguably melodic
Not everyone agrees on this, but there are those who think the Russian language is among the most beautiful in the world. It has a considerable impact on other languages — especially when it comes to political words. Kompromat, anyone?
Russia has influence
Russian speakers can affect change in the world. Russian Language Day gives us a chance to find common ground amid the political turmoil.
We don’t often think about it, but a lot of humor depends upon the language used to deliver it. And just like there are certain jokes that only work in English, there are certain jokes that only work in Russian.
Russian Language Day dates