For over seven decades, the Day of November 7 was officially called The Great October Socialist Revolution Day (October Revolution Day celebrated in November? How come? The thing is, that the Bolshevik coup was launched on October 25, 1917, when the country still used the Old Style calendar, and after the Bolsheviks seized power, they introduced the New Style calendar which was thirteen days ahead of the old Style one; thus the October Revolution in the Soviet times was marked on November 7 - very typical of the Bolshevik regime loss of common sense).
It was the biggest holiday in the Soviet times. Brass orchestras played deafening, boisterous tunes to which people marched through the main streets of villages, towns and cities, shouting "Hurrah!" at the top of their lungs, and Soviet leaders, perched comfortably on the viewing stands, were languidly waving their plump hands, "greeting the masses." Military parades in the capital were followed by civil parades of "happy" citizens of all ages. The last Soviet parade of this kind took place in Kyiv in 1990. That year, I was one of several scores of young people, representing the then opposition to the Soviet regime from the extreme right to the liberals and "Greens Party" members. We decided to try to block at night one of the wide streets in Kyiv, which the parade had to file through on its way to the main street the next morning. At dawn, we were attacked by police (locally called "militsiya") who dispersed us and destroyed our primitive barricades, giving us a sound thrashing in the process. The parade passed through unobstructed. Now, in Ukraine, we live in a different country, independent and no longer called "the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic." Not only the names have changed, a lot of things have gone through radical transformations, but, alas, not everywhere where it matters.
In the early years of independence there inevitably arose a question: should we, in Ukraine, continue to celebrate a coup that took place in the neighbouring country so many years ago? Unfortunately, the then communist majority in parliament adopted a decision to have November 7 preserved as a holiday.

But in fact, it stopped being a real holiday for the majority of Ukrainians, just an additional day-off. A day when people celebrate truancy and non-going to work. Recently, thanks to the new parliamentary majority, a decision was adopted by Verkhovna Rada to abolish the holiday of the 7th of November. The red and pink politicians and their not too numerous hardcore supporters continue to celebrate the 1917 October coup by parades which have shrunk to pathetic trickles of retired people filing thorough the streets. At the same time, those who harbour no nostalgic feelings for the Soviet Union and what it represented, get together on that day to pay homage to the millions of victims of the Soviet regime. When, several years ago, the pro and contra demonstrations clashed, the police (who knows, maybe among them there were those who attacked us, young protesters, several years earlier?) were forced to apply their truncheons to the backs of the overzealous communists who were the ones who started the fight. The city authorities have ever since made sure that the pro-communist and anti-communist demonstrations take place in different parts of town. Meanwhile, the majority of sensible Ukrainians distance themselves from engaging in political confrontations. Holidays should be holidays, free from any political bias.
By Andriy Hlazovy
Photographs by Oleksiy Onyshchuk