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Website: Victory Day celebrates the end of World War II with parades, spectacular fireworks and displays of military strength.

Girls wear flower or herb wreaths on their heads, and in the evening the wreaths are decorated with burning candles and set afloat; the girl whose wreath travels the farthest will have the happiest year ahead, and the candle that burns the longest means a long life.

Some people attend all-night vigils at church; others just go on Christmas morning.

Tatyana’s Day is often called Russian Students Day.

The Mariinsky Theatre has a programme of more than 175 operas, ballets and classical concerts – and tickets get snapped up fast.

There are carnivals, too, the best being in the suburb of Peterhof where actors dress up in historical costume from the time of Peter the Great and re-enact historical events.

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