November 7: Ripe for the Great Revolution

If you see the Bolsheviks are back in the streets of Moscow, do not run to pack up your belongings. Most likely, it is just a re-enactment of the Russian Revolution of 1917 for a group of tourists.

The new idea has come into minds of those on Moscow’s tourism market who thought that themed tours around the city with actors would make history come alive. Just like the re-enactment shows, more than 90 years ago, revolutionary activists rallied their supporters.

“The idea is to make excursions more interactive and exciting, so we use re-enactments as part of our guided tours,” Agneta Linchevskaya, themed tour organizer at Never Sleep tourist agency, told RT. “A lot of today’s youngsters never even witnessed Soviet times, they can’t relate to them at all. Of course, everyone’s read about the revolution, but we want to make people feel part of those events.”

What became known as the Great October Socialist Revolution took place on October 25, 1917. It started with a blank shot from the battleship Aurora in St. Petersburg, then called Petrograd. By that time Russia was exhausted by the unpopular World War I, the Tsar had already been deposed and a shaky provisional government was formed.

The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, did away with those temporary authorities, taking power and paving the way for the creation of the Soviet Union, while the word “October” got a new, ideologically-charged meaning.

One of the Moscow squares was even called Oktyabrskaya – the October Square. Although the name has now changed, the statue of Lenin, erected in 1985, still stands tall. For decades, the Revolution and its leader were glorified by Soviet historians, while the event’s anniversary was widely celebrated across the USSR.

The October Revolution was never actually marked in October. In 1918, Soviet Russia dropped the old Julian calendar and adopted the Gregorian one – already well-established in most of the Western world – which was 13 days ahead. Thus, October 25 became November 7 – and there was hardly a date more sacred in the USSR, celebrated with a grandiose parade in Red Square and dubbed “the red day of the calendar.” Today, the holiday is off the calendar altogether, but it is still a big date for the country’s Communist Party.

“The revolution was one of the defining moments of the world’s history,” Communist party member Dmitry Novikov told RT. “It created a country with some truly good values – equal opportunities for all, social guarantees and a great education system. Without the revolution, we’d never have had such a mighty power as the USSR and such achievements as the victory in the Second World War and the first man in space.”

The Communists may see the revolution as one of the greatest events in the country’s history, but in the streets its legacy divides opinions.

“Most of my life was lived in the USSR,” one Muscovite told RT. “For me the revolution anniversary is still a holiday. It’s part of our history.”

“The revolution brought so much misery to our country,” another said. “It was a huge mistake that we’re still paying for.”

With the Soviet Union gone, one of the country’s biggest holidays, November 7, has turned into a day of mixed emotions as many Russians still have to come to terms with their country’s checkered past.

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