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Government offices, should you need them, open from 9am or 10am to 5pm or 6pm weekdays. Banks usually open from 9am to noon Monday to Friday; those in major cities often also open from 1pm to 6pm. Currency ­exchange booths open long hours, and on Saturday and sometimes Sunday too.

Most shops are open Monday to Saturday. Food shops tend to open from 8am to 8pm, except for a pereryv (break) from 1pm to 2pm or 2pm to 3pm ; some close later, some open Sunday until 5pm. Other shops mostly oper­ate from 10am or 11am to 7pm or 8pm, with a 2pm to 3pm break. Department stores may run from Sam to 8pm or 9pm without a break. A few shops stay open through the weekend and close on Monday.

In major cities there are more and more 24­hour kiosks selling food and drink. Restau­rants typically open from noon to midnight except for a break between afternoon and evening meals.

Museum hours change often, as do the weekly days off. Most museums shut en­trance doors 30 minutes or an hour before closing time, and may have shorter hours on the day before their day off.


Public Holidays
The main public holidays are:

  • New Year’s Day 1 January
  • Russian Orthodox Christmas Day 7 January
  • International Women’s Day 8 March
  • International Labor Day/Spring Festival 1 & 2 May
  • Victory Day (1945) 9 May
  • Russian Independence Day (when the Russian republic inside the USSR proclaimed its sover­eignty in June 1991) 12 June
  • Day of Reconciliation and Accord (the rebranded Revolution Day) 7 November

Other widely celebrated holidays are De­fenders of the Motherland Day (23 Febru­ary), Easter Monday and Constitution Day (12 December). Much of Russia shuts down for the first half of May.


The Russians do a delightful job of finding reasons to hold a festival. Some of the more important are as follows:


Russian Orthodox Christmas (Rozhdestvo; 7 Jan­uary).
Begins with midnight church services

February to April

Pancake Week (Maslennitsa; late February and/or early March).
Folk shows and games celebrate the end of winter, with lots of pancake-eating before Lent (pancakes were a pagan symbol of the sun)

Festival of the North (last week of March).
Mur­mansk and other northern towns hold reindeer races, ski marathons and so on

Easter (Paskha; March/April).
The main festival of the Orthodox Church year. Easter Day begins with celebratory midnight services. Afterwards, people eat kulichy (dome-shaped cakes) and paskha (curd cakes), and may exchange painted wooden Easter eggs. The devout deny them­selves meat, milk, alcohol and sex during Lent’s 40-day pre-Easter fasting period


Graduates Day (traditionally 25 May).
A day for those finishing school, who parade about their hometowns in traditional student garb


St Petersburg White Nights (June). Involves gen­eral merrymaking and staying out late, as well as a dance festival. Many other northern towns have their own version.


National Reconciliation Day (7 November). The old Great October Socialist Revolution Anniver­sary – still a big day for Communist Party marches. Otherwise, monarchists mourn and others drink while closing down their dachas for winter.


Sylvester and New Year (31 December & 1 Janu­ary). The main winter and gift-giving festival when gifts are put under the yolka, the tradi­tional fir tree. See out the old year with vodka and welcome in the new one with champagne while listening to the Kremlin chimes on TV. 2