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MOSCOW, August 4 (Itar-Tass) - Over a million Russians will mark their professional holiday - Day of Railway Workers - on Sunday. It is the oldest industrial holiday in Russia. Its history dates back to July 9, 1896 when Prince Mikhail Khilkov, the minister of railways of the Russian Empire, signed a decree instituting Day of Railway Workers as an official holiday.
The date’s choice was linked directly to the birth of Emperor Nicholas I whose rule saw the construction of the first public Tsarskoye Selo Railway leading from St. Petersburg to the imperial residence of Tsarskoye Selo (the Czar’s Village) and the St.Petersburg-Moscow railroad. In those years, all central and local railway institutions were off on the Day of Railway Workers. In the evening, a dinner and a concert were held at the gala hall of the Pavlovsk Railway. Thanksgiving prayers took place at all major stations and railway buildings. The holiday was marked until 1917.
The Bolsheviks who rose to power in 1917 cancelled all the holidays instituted under the tsarist regime. The Day of Railway Workers re-appeared in the calendar 19 years later. In 1936, Soviet railway men exceeded the initially planned number of carriages for the first time in many years. A conference of railway employees that was held in Moscow on July 25-30, 1935 decided to appeal to the country’s leadership for permission to continue marking their work achievements.
On July 28, 1936, the Central Executive Committee of the USSR decreed that the All-Union Day of Railway Transport should be marked on July 30, 1936 as a nationwide holiday.
In 1940, the holiday was transferred to its current date - the first Sunday of August.
Despite over a century-old history, the holiday has preserved its traditional scope and flavor: parties and concerts will take place in all cities related to railways on Sunday. Brass bands will play at many railway stations. Train passengers will be in for pleasant surprises.
Yekaterinburg, the administrative center of the Urals, will become the venue for the main celebrations this year. Several years ago, the Russian Railways leadership decided to hold the main celebrations in turn in various Russian cities. Nizhniy Novgorod, Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg and Moscow have already hosted the festivities.
“However, all Russian railroads will continue operating as usual even on the holiday. Let us thank thousands of our colleagues who will work on Sunday,” a source at the Russian Railways company told Itar-Tass. Nevertheless, they will be able to mark the holiday with tea, coffee and sweeties brought from home.
“However, greetings from passengers and freight dispatchers for whom we work will be the best gift for our colleagues on their professional holiday,” the company’s source concluded.