First day of Autumn and School in Russia

Today, the 1st of September, is the first day of Autumn in Russia.

Contrary to North America and most of Western Europe, where the Fall season begins on the 21st of the month, in line with the with the September equinox (21 to 24 September), in Russia Autumn, like all four seasons, begins with the first day of the month.

The Russian word for Autumn, Осень, derives from the Gothic language, but there are two possible origins for this term. The first one is Asans – “harvest” or “harvest time” and the other is осенять, dark: the onset of dusk. They both makes a lot of sense as Autumn is the season of both these things.

Nowadays, though, the harvest season has somewhat spread to a all-year-round affair and there are no more periods of food scarcity and other of food abundance. Autumn can, nonetheless be the perfect season to celebrate nature as it gifts us with the most spectacular and vibrant colors, especially in the woods.

And for that, Russia is one of the best countries in the whole world, as not only is the largest of them all, but also the one with the most forest area on the planet (8,149,300 square km, almost twice as much as Canada, in second place with 4,916,438 km2)

Countries with the largest forest area

There is so much forest in Russia that two of its States, Krasnoyarsk Krai and Yakutia (or Sakha Republic), both with over 1.5 Million square km of forest each, if they were considered as independent nations would rank 6th and 7th in the world, after China with just over 2 million km2 and before Australia with 1.25 million km2 of forest.

It means that if all Russian people were to evenly spread out in the woods, each of them would have over 55 thousand square meters of forest for himself or herself, compared to less than 10 thousand in the USA, less than 1,500 in China and just over 600 in India.

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In Russia, September 1st is not only the first day of Autumn, but also the first day of school for the vast majority of Russian schoolchildren, students, teachers and professors.

Since 1984 is a National Holiday (first in the Soviet Union and now in Russia), and a very special one for a couple of reasons.

First of all, in spite of being a national holiday, people don’t get a day off work (or, much less, off school!). On the contrary, this day is celebrated as “День знаний” or “Knowledge Day” and all students attend school in their best uniforms in a great celebration of the work and effort of their teachers, to which it is tradition to gift flowers.

It is a very heartfelt celebration, as Russians really value the school education (you can read more about it in this post: Russian Schools, education and values), but strangely there has never been a stamp dedicated to this occasion.

On the other hand, in Soviet Times, there have been a few Art Stamped Envelopes (which needed no additional stamp), of which this is an example.

Soviet Art Stamped Envelope from 1986 celebrating the Day of Knowledge

One more thing… if the Day of Knowledge falls on a Saturday or Sunday (like this year), it gets celebrated the following Monday. So, this year Autumn has already begun, but school starts tomorrow! 🙂


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