On 5th October, Russians will celebrate «День учителя» (Teachers’ Day). On this day, students show gratitude to their teachers to say thank you for their contribution and dedication. Read on to find out how this day is celebrated!
«День учителя» was first celebrated in the Soviet Union, traditionally on the first Sunday of October each year. On the eve of the holiday, children would come into school to decorate their classrooms with balloons, flowers and posters. They would prepare songs, poems, and even concerts to honour their teachers.
Nowadays, the holiday is celebrated on 5th October every year. This date was chosen by the UN in 1994, as it marked the anniversary of the first official document outlining the responsibilities and rights of teachers, commissioned by UNESCO in 1965. Since then, 5th October marks the International Day of Teachers throughout the world. Each year there is a specific slogan for the holiday – this year, it is “Young teachers – the future of the profession.”
In many European countries this day is not celebrated, or it is marked only in the form of a card given to teachers. However, Russians don’t hold back in showing their gratitude to their teachers, and «День учителя» remains just as important a holiday as it was in Soviet times!
Children come into school for the celebration on 5th October, or on the next school day if the holiday falls on the weekend. Many schools organise an arrangement whereby older students lead the classes for the day, to give their teachers time off to celebrate!
There will be games, competitions, singing, comedy sketches, concerts, and there might be an informal ‘prize’ ceremony run by the students, with nominations such as ‘most fun’ and ‘most fashionable’. Children and parents bring in a feast of cakes, pies and salads to celebrate the day, and students line up to give flowers and presents to their teacher. Teachers receive congratulations not just from students, but from parents and colleagues too.
Presents can be from an individual student or from the whole class. They might be a simple box of chocolates or sweets, but teachers often receive handmade or thoughtful gifts which may be related to their subject. Children sometimes seek out the advice of other teachers on what to give, and the parents of the class may club together to buy the teacher a special gift. Alongside the present, children present a card to their teachers with a poem, song or quote written inside.
Interestingly, it is not acceptable to give a teacher alcohol as a present. In the UK, it is very common to give your teacher a bottle of wine at the end of the school year as a thank you present. (Maybe this says less about different customs, and more about the behaviour of British schoolchildren!)
«День учителя» is not just a celebration of teachers by their students, but is also an opportunity for the government to award prizes to outstanding members of the educational community. The most prestigious prize of all is the «Учитель года» (Teacher of the Year) prize, which is awarded personally by the President.
Teachers from schools and universities can enter the competition. They must pass local, regional, and country-wide stages, taking part in various activities such as demonstrating their use of information technology, writing an essay, conducting a lesson, leading an extracurricular event, and presenting a strategy to improve the education system. Winners receive a prize in the form of a crystal pelican. (This comes from an ancient religious symbol depicting a mother pelican looking after her young, and even sacrificing herself to ensure that her young can flourish.)
On the «Учитель года» website, there is an interactive map with this year’s candidates from each region of Russia. You can see what they teach and a quote which sums up their ethos. You can check out the contests from 1990 up until the present day, including all the previous winners. It is inspiring to read about these teachers, their achievements, and what they have contributed to the local community.
С днём учителя! – Happy Teachers Day!
Букет цветов – bouquet of flowers
Учитель года – Teacher of the Year
Премия – prize
Подарок – present
Государственный праздник – national holiday
С днем учителя сегодня,
Мы хотим поздравить Вас!
Будет крепким пусть здоровье,
И приносит радость класс!
Пусть в работе ждут успехи,
А в семье любовь живет!
Пусть счастливые моменты
Принесет учебный год!
Happy Teachers’ Day today,
We want to congratulate you!
May you be strong and healthy,
And bring joy to the class!
May success await you,
And love in your family!
May the school year
Bring happy moments!
Celebrating «День учителя» is a joyful way of bringing the school together, giving thanks to the people who play such an important role in children’s lives, and recognising the often underappreciated role of teachers. So, next week, don’t forget to wish your teacher С днём учителя!
До встречи, Rachel.
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