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Russia traditionally celebrates Tatyana's Day on January 25
Russia traditionally celebrates Tatyana's Day on January 25, when all women with the popular name, celebrate their saint's day. According to sociologists, up to 15% of baby-girls born on this date are usually named in honor of the martyr who is the patroness of all Tatyanas. Since ancient times, ordinary people have respected the young and noble resident of Rome for her qualities that were closely associated with the key morals for Russians: Tatyana showed sympathy to the poor, helped the sick, and cared for orphans. By a historical twist, St. Tatyana became the patron saint of Russian science and education. On January 12(25), 1724, Peter the Great founded the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg. A year later, a university was established under the Academy. It was there that Mikhail Lomonosov (1711-1765), then a graduate of the Slavonic-Greek-Latin Academy and a talented son of a fisherman, continued his studies on his way to becoming a great Russian scientist. He later designed the concept for Moscow University, which became the first educational establishment in Europe without a theological faculty. Here, not only students, but also anybody could listen to lectures and conduct scientific discussions "for the sake of scientific knowledge." It was an innovative and democratic project, which established Moscow University's spirit of freethinking. Lomonosov realized that as a common person without connections he would never be able to implement his project. So the future prominent scientist decided to approach an influential courtier and intelligent patron of the arts, Count Shuvalov. He eagerly supported Lomonosov's idea to found a university in the old capital. On Tatyana's Day, January 12(25), 1755, Empress Elizabeth signed a decree on the foundation of this educational establishment "to promote education in the vast Russian Empire." The empress was indifferent to sciences, but desperately wanted to follow the steps of her father-reformer - Peter the Great. Shuvalov submitted the decree for her signature on January 25 with a special purpose. Wanting to ensure the success of the project, he timed this important affair with the name day of his mother - Tatyana. The university building, purchased with funds from the state budget, had a side-church, which was consecrated as St. Tatyana's Church. The festive tradition was established during the university's first year. On January 25, students organized a festive celebration, glorifying their "temple of sciences" and their patron saint. The great Russian writer Anton Chekhov, a former Moscow medical student, left the following account: "This year (1885), we drank everything except the Moskva River, and only because it was frozen. Pianos and grand pianos would not stop playing. Orchestras bashed out "Gaudea-mus"...The merry spirit infected everyone to the point where one of the students started swimming in a pool with sterlets..." Even during Soviet times, when old traditions were definitely frowned upon, Moscow State University students continued to celebrate Tatyana's Day, although unofficially. January 25 usually marked the end of the winter term and the start of winter break. Students considered it "a sin" not to celebrate this happy event. The tradition gradually won over students at universities all round the country and today is considered a nationwide holiday. This year, Tatyana's Day has a special meaning for Moscow University students. It coincides with the 250th anniversary of the university. As usual, the program for the festivities has been kept secret and the celebration is going to be full of surprises. The launch of the university's scientific satellite Tatyana into orbit can be considered one of them. On the morning of January 25, according to tradition, a solemn prayer ceremony will be held in St. Tatyana's Church, followed by celebrations in the old university building near the Kremlin and the new Moscow University campus dating back to the mid-20th century on the Vorobyovy (Sparrow) Hills. The celebrations will include the usual string of speeches delivered by the faculty, students and guests; amateur theatrical performances; and, finally, a grand student gala evening. Some people will get married and some babies will be baptized in St. Tatyana's Church on that day. It is also an old tradition. Marina Tsvetayeva, who became a famous poetess and was the eldest daughter of Ivan Tsvetayev, a Moscow University professor, was baptized here in 1895. All teachers and students named Tatyana are honored on this day. Here is an interesting detail: until the 19th century, this name was not popular in Russia. The Latin phonation Tatyana had acquired a Slavic root "tat" meaning "a thief." It is hardly surprising that nobody wanted to give his or her daughter a name with such a dubious meaning and bring disaster upon their homes. There was another interpretation of the same root, though. In Slavic languages "tata" meant "father," and in this case Tatyana might have meant "father's favorite daughter." Nevertheless, for a long time, the name Tatyana was considered "low brow." However, thanks to ingenious Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, the name Tatyana came out from the servants' quarters and became very popular and respected. The poet loved this name. He considered it mellifluous, gracious and sensual. He named the heroine of his famous novel Yevgeny Onegin Tatyana Larina and poetized her as a certain ideal for Russian women.
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