If you see a throng of children, all dressed up and everyone carrying flowers, what could it be? Well if it’s 1 сентября (1 September) or the day after when 1 сентября falls on a Sunday, then what you see is the Днём Знаний (Day of Knowledge) and the occasion of the первый звонок (First Bell) the events marking the beginning of школа (School) each year!
Greetings of Здравствуй школа (informal: Hello, School!) ring out as teachers and students welcome each other.
In most instances students along with parents gather at the front of the school where there is a program outside. The principal or head teacher greets the students and in some cases there is a blessing from an Orthodox Priest or Muslim Cleric and often songs are sung by students.
Students gather by class or in cases of smaller children stand with teachers with family members nearby.
Before entering the building there are traditions to observe, including the ringing of the first bell which is done as an upperclassman carries a designated primary girl student around the group parade style while she rings the bell.
Students line up by class and starting with the youngest first, entered the school with their teacher. It is not uncommon for the smaller students to be accompanied by older students.
In many schools the teachers greet the students in normal classroom attire but as shown below, at this school in Tver, Russia the teachers were a little creative yesterday and greeted students with a reading/book fair.
The giving of flowers is an important cultural symbol in Russia and giving flowers to teachers is no exception. Every student brings flowers or in some cases some fruit for the teacher.
Especially for young students it is customary for parents to be part of the first day of life inside the classroom.
President Putin, on his way to Saint Petersburg for the G20 Summit, stopped in at school #7 in Kurgan where he posed for a photo with teachers and then greeted upper-class students to wish them success in their last year of school.
Russian schools are designed to serve neighborhoods so busing is extremely rare. Most students walk to a school that is very close to their home and often is across or just down the street from their apartment complex. Russian schools are grades 1-11 and students generally attend the same school for each of those years.