Back to the magazine2021 year №2

On the Issue of Formation and Decline of the Soviet Ritualism

Read the postRead the postDownload the post
The authors of the publication:
Kurochkin Oleksandr
Bibliographic description:
Kurochkin O, (2021) On the Issue of Formation and Decline of the Soviet Ritualism. Folk Art and Ethnology, 1 (389), 69–78.


Kurochkin Oleksandr

a Doctor of History, a professor, a senior research fellow at the Ukrainian Ethnological Centre of the M. Rylskyi Institute of Art Studies, Folkloristics and Ethnology (NAS of Ukraine). orcid:


On the Issue of Formation and Decline of the Soviet Ritualism



The article aims at critically analysing the practice of forming a system of Soviet holidays and rites, revealing their inhumane, totalitarian nature and inconsistency with goals and objectives of building a democratic society. The paper uses general scientific methods of analysis and synthesis.

The historical method was instrumental in accumulating initial data obtained from primary sources and literature on the topic under study. The axiological method made it possible to consider the value content and social worth of Soviet ritualism. The article’s scientific novelty is determined by the fact that for the first time in national culture studies, the processes of introduction and transformation of Soviet holidays and rites in Ukraine are covered in the context of formation of the totalitarian regime’s ideology. While using specific facts, the author shows that from the very beginning, the Bolshevik authorities pursued a policy of forcedly secularizing the population, the displacement from everyday life (primarily public one) all forms and manifestations of religious and traditional-folk ritualism. In their development, Soviet holidays and ceremonies went through several stages, each of which corresponded to a certain period of formation of socio-economic relations in the Soviet country, as well as to topical tasks in the realm of ideology and culture transformations. Anniversaries of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the Day of International Solidarity, May Day, the Day of the Paris Commune have become a core of the system of the red-letter calendar festive dates. Official models and scenarios of these celebrations have taken their canonical forms during the years of complete domination of the Stalinist totalitarian dictatorship.

The so-called new socialist customs and rites went through excessive regulation, false pathos, overdose of communist propaganda, and therefore, not without reason, they were compared to artificial flowers.

Total disregard for the particularity of culture of individual nations constituting the USSR should be considered one of the main defects of all-Soviet Union rituals, which has eventually led to their complete bankruptcy.



Soviet holidays, rituals, festive calendar, ideology, communist totalitarianism, national identity, democracy.



  1. ZHELEV, Zhelyu, Fascism. A Totalitarian State. Translated from Bulgarian by Aleksandr ABRAMOV. Moscow: News Press Agency, 1991 [in Russian].
  2. ŻYGULSKI, Kazimierz. Festival and Culture: Old and New Holidays: Reflections of a Sociologist. Moscow: Progress, 1985 [in Russian].
  3. KAHANOV, Yuriy, Soviet Holidays and Ceremonies in the Context of Ideological Policy in Ukraine in the Second Half of the XXth Century. In: Fedir TURCHENKO, ed.‑in‑chief, Scholarly Works of the Zaporizhia National University’s Faculty of History. Zaporizhzhia, 2013, iss. 36, pp. 186–194 [in Ukrainian].
  4. KAMPARS, Piotr, Nikolay ZAKOVICH. Soviet Civil Ceremonies. Moscow: Thought, 1967 [in Russian].
  5. KRYMSKYI, Serhiy. Requests for Philosophical Meanings. Kyiv: Parapan, 2003 [in Ukrainian].
  6. KUROCHKIN, Oleksandr. Festive Year of the Ukrainians (From the Times of Yore to the Present). Bila Tserkva: Oleksandr Pshonkivskyi Publisher, 2014, 385 pp. [in Ukrainian].
  7. KUROCHKIN, Oleksandr. Festive and Ceremonial Culture. Selected Works. Kyiv: Lyre-K., 1978, 189 pp. [in Ukrainian].
  8. LUNACHARSKIY, Anatoliy. On Mass Festivals, Variety, and Circus. Compiled, edited, prefaced, and annotated by Simon DREYDEN. Moscow: Art, 1981 [in Russian].
  9. POPOV, Boris, compiler. Soviet Traditions, Holidays, and Rites: A Reference Dictionary. Kyiv: Publishing House of Political Literature of Ukraine, 1988 [in Russian].
  10. Recommendations for Celebrating the Victory Day of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945. Kyiv, 1981 [in Ukrainian].
  11. RIZNYK, Oleksandr, Oleksandr HRYTSENKO. Rites and Holidays. In: Oleksandr HRYTSENKO, ed., Essays on the Ukrainian Popular Culture. Kyiv: Ukrainian Centre for Cultural Studies’ Institute of Cultural Policy, 1998, pp. 481–501 [in Ukrainian].
  12. The Peasant Truth, 1922, January 12 [in Ukrainian].
  13. JASPERS, Karl. The Sense and Purpose of History. Translated from the German by M. LEVINA. Moscow: Republic, 1994 [in Russian].