On November 4, Russia marks National Unity Day. The holiday was introduced in 2005, but it has deep historical roots. National Unity Day is meant to be a symbol of military glory and commemorates an important victory for the country.
The first manifestation of national unity goes back to the days of Saint Vladimir I of Kiev, son of Prince Sviatoslav, who converted to Christianity. His army followed suit since Vladimir’s words were more important to them than any sermons. Soon every Russian city and every tribe which owed allegiance to Prince Vladimir was baptized. Thus, Russia found faith, adopted the alphabet, and established links to the ancient Greek civilization. The newfound sense of national unity has weathered many devastating storms and has not disappeared. In this respect, the unveiling of the monument to Prince Vladimir near the Borovitsky gates of the Kremlin on the upcoming National Unity Day looks symbolic.
The reinstated National Unity Day was introduced a bit over a decade ago, but, in fact, as it was mentioned above, it can be traced back to days long gone. Way back in 1649, Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich called for commemorating the liberation of Moscow from Polish invaders on the Day of Our Lady of Kazan, whose feast day is November 4 in the Gregorian calendar. In 1612 the Russian militia led by the Prince Dmitry Pozharsky freed China Town from the Poles on this particular day. It was a decisive battle for Moscow, which lowered the Polish-Lithuanian garrison’s morale and the invaders retreated.
It is noteworthy that the fate of the Russian state was determined by large congregations, including people’s militia, which freed Moscow, and Zemsky Sobor (assembly of the land), which elected Mikhail Fedorovich Romanov, the new Russian tsar.
What does the holiday stand for? Undoubtedly, the Russian language, traditions, culture, and territory. Most importantly, perhaps, it signifies historical memory, experience, knowledge, and traditions. They are the lessons learnt.
Therefore, National Unity Day does provide us, above all, with additional food for thought about lessons of history. Patriotism does not so much constitute a bombastic slogan as an essential requirement. Undoubtedly, it does not imply complete unity in the every-man-jack-style. The people are viewed as a single and cohesive body bound together by a common or collective interest. The history of overcoming the Time of Troubles teaches us the same thing.
Russia faced the period of political upheavals for a number of clear reasons. The list includes the dynastic crisis, the unresolved land dispute and deviations in absolute monarchy. Above all, preserving the country’s identity and sovereignty required rejecting anger and hostility, joint efforts, and social cohesion. At that time, everybody realized that living amid full-scale confrontation was a pointless as well as dangerous affair. In that situation, the people prevented the collapse of the state showing an ability to endure hardships and triumph over adversities with honour.
A high price paid for cultural as well as state sovereignty is another lesson to be learnt from the Time of Troubles. Russia has but once had to defend its right to the unique way or an autonomous development strategy, which is just as relevant in the modern context. Actually, the principle of sovereignty resonates with most Russians nowadays. Opting for autonomy or independence is a high-stakes and informed decision, which results from the lessons drawn by Russia in the past.
 The Time of Troubles, Russian Smutnoye Vremya, was a period of political crisis in Russia (1589-1613) accompanied by social disruption, political unrest, the civil war, the Polish and Swedish invasion, and a series of natural disasters.