It was more or less just like in the 17th century:
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot!
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Except that in the 20th century in Russia that was the seventh of November (new style date). And since in the then current old style it all happened in late October, the event became known as the Great October Socialist Revolution.
I was born in the Soviet Union with the Seventh of November in my blood as one of the brightest dates in the calendar. Not even Victory Day was so widely observed back then. We had New Year’s for the kids in us, Women’s Day for the ceremonial bow towards women, First of May for the spring holiday, Victory Day for the battle memories and Constitution Day for the extra holiday in school (well, not sure now if Constitution Day was actually a day-off). But Seventh of November reigned above them all with its military parade (same as Victory Day), demonstrations (same as First of May) and something extra that other holidays lacked.
I am not feeling nostalgic now, or am I? In some sense I am, I guess. We were young and naïve, we believed that our forefathers overturned tsarism and exploitation by the landlords, we knew that the Soviet rule gave us all equal access to education, health care and social welfare. We were kids after all and kids are fascinated with flags, tanks, crowds and parades. I even once took part in a demonstration, but in a small town where participant passes were not required.
Then we saw The Cold Summer of 1953 and learnt more about millions killed in the 1930s-1940s. Not that it wasn’t known before, just not highlighted. Then everything tumbled down and the Soviet Union was no more. I was still a child to notice acutely and sympathise or celebrate. What followed were the years when we somewhat struggled with poverty (comparatively and relatively speaking), lived through tumultous times and found ourselves in the 2000s. Years of relative stability and prosperity. Now we are back to the brink of struggling with poverty, just on a somewhat different level.
It is the Cold Summer of 2010s and the Soviet Union is back, almost. We are made to believe that our forefathers overturned tsarism and exploitation by the landlords with a new (maybe not so righteously) twist, we recall that the Soviet rule gave us all equal access to education, health care and social welfare (with the new realisation – this was not always equal access to the best we could have had). We are no longer kids but we all get fascinated with flags, tanks, crowds and parades (or, shall I say, their reenactments). There is even a slightly wider access to those reenactments provided you have a participant pass.
We are living through the times of reenactment of something from our past but on a slightly different level and with many new twists. Market economy is what makes those with participant passes become rich and feel part of the world. Nostalgic reminiscing about planned economy is what makes the majority feel deceived but on the way to improvement (by way of going back). No need to be part of the world for this majority, as the world is hostile again.
The feeling is that by alienating ourselves against the rest of the planet (since they alienate themselves from us) and going back to our righteous Soviet rules we might just survive and prosper, albeit through some initial hardships. These sentiments are freely planted through the media into the television-led collective consciousness and find fertile ground there.
The problem is that these sentiments are good for the masses but not intended for the few who have participant passes. Hence, all those propaganda warriors who preach death and hardships here but for themselves choose life abroad. Hence, this ambiguity and doublethinking about the events that exploded and spread with the gunpowder, treason and plot of the seventh of November. Hence, the fact that we are given back parades, tanks and flags but not the holiday. That is unless you count those reenactments that serve as the Victory Day repeat to fill the Seventh of November void.
I come from the generation of kids who were fortunate enough to be born too late for the Soviet sentiments to cement inside our brains. We find bits and pieces, but have other experiences from later periods. Not all of us, as some are lost to the preaching. We are also from the generation of kids who were too fascinated with flags, tanks and parades, and those who are disillusioned with the present might gladly embrace the past. I can treat the whole thing as a children’s rhyme now and look into the future (or at least hope for it), while many others only think that are looking into the future and in fact are facing the past all over again.