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The 24th of May is the Day of Slavic literature and culture

"Language and a country's spiritual, cultural and historical heritage is what defines national identity and binds together the people, society, and the entire country. What’s more, in many ways, it is the foundation of state sovereignty.”

Vladimir Putin


The Day of Slavic literature and culture is celebrated in Russia on the 24th of May. This is the only state-religious holiday in the country, established in 1991. It is dated to the day of the memory of the apostles Cyril and Methodius – the founders of the Slavic alphabet.

Slavic written language was invented in the IX century, about the year of 862. The new alphabet was called "Cyrillic” after the name of Byzantine Constantine, who became Cyril after having adopted the monkshood. His elder brother Methodius helped him.

Cyril invented the Slavic alphabet on the base of the Greek one, but substantially changed it in order to meet the peculiarity of the Slavic sound system. As a result, two Slavic alphabets have been made: the Glagolithic and the Cyrillic.

Patriarch Kirill:This day – both on church and secular calendars – is a public holiday in most European countries. It is widely celebrated in Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovakia, Czechia, Macedonia, and Poland. And heads of state, parliament members, social activists, and cultural workers take an active part in these celebrations.

The Day of Slavic Literature and Culture is a big event, a holiday that has been observed by Slavic peoples for many decades. Suffice it to say that even in Soviet times, when the names of St Cyril and St Methodius were less openly mentioned, public demonstrations were held on that day in Bulgaria that could be compared in scale to those held on May 1, International Workers’ Day. These festivities featured many students, intellectuals, and representatives of non-governmental organisations. In other words, the holiday has a long history both in the Church and in the secular environment, and it is remarkable that it has been part of our collective life for more than two decades.

Why is the Day of Slavic Literature and Culture so important? Apparently, because it tells us so much about our history. But it would be a mistake to view it as a thing of the past. It instructs us in who we are and, thus, what we should do in the future. To my mind, this is the message that all our festivities should promote.

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