Celebration was a major part of Soviet life, with generally socialist and specifically Soviet holidays throughout the year. The first prazdnik (holiday) marked after the Revolution was the First of May, in 1918. The year’s main celebration of the labouring masses, it gained an ever-increasing emphasis on worldwide working solidarity. The main locally Soviet holiday commemorated the October Revolution, first celebrated also in 1918, on its first anniversary.

The designs around celebration assumed a major role in the Soviet propaganda machine. Patriotic spirit during the war was raised by celebrations against the odds: the country itself and its leaders took on increasingly venerated roles, and religious iconography was consciously employed. While religious belief had no place in the ideal Communist world, there was certainly room for the new Soviet design for faith.

Sometimes religious themes were simply reworked (the godlike leader), and sometimes a comparative approach was used, with the religious representing backward imperial ways.


‘Da zdravstvuet proletarskii prazdnik, 1-oe maia’ (‘Hail the 1st of May, the holiday of the proletariat’) by I. Simakov, in The Russian Revolutionary poster. CCA.54.27

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