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The Soviet calendar added five- and six-day work weeks between 1929 and 1940 to the Gregorian calendar adopted by Russiamarker in 1918. Although the traditional seven-day week was still recognized, a day of rest on Sunday was replaced by one day of rest sometime during each work week. Many sources erroneously state that the weeks were organized into 30-day months.

Five-day weeks

Soviet calendar, 1930
Colored five-day work week
Soviet calendar, January–September 1930
One worker's red rest days of the five-day work week

From the autumn of 1929 until the summer of 1931, each Gregorian calendar year was usually divided into 72 five-day weeks (=360 days), three of which were split into two partial weeks by five national holidays. The two parts of each split week still totaled five days—the one or two national holidays that split it were not part of that week. Each day of the five-day week was labeled by either one of five colors or a Roman numeral from I to V. Each worker was assigned a color or number to identify his or her day of rest.

Eighty per cent of each factory's workforce was at work every day (except holidays) in an attempt to increase production while 20% were resting. But if a husband and wife, and their relatives and friends were assigned different colors or numbers, they would not have a common rest day for their family and social life. Furthermore, machines broke down more frequently both because they were used by workers not familiar with them, and because no maintenance could be performed on machines that were never idle in factories with continuous schedules (24-hours/day every day).

The colors vary depending on the source consulted. The 1930 color calendar displayed here has days of purple, blue, yellow, red, and green, in that order beginning . Blue was supported by an anonymous writer in 1936 as the second day of the week, but he stated that red was the first day of the week. However, most sources replace blue with either or peach, all of which specify the different order yellow, pink/orange/peach, red, purple, and green. The partial 1930 black and white calendar from Kingsbury and Fairchild (1935) displayed here does not conform to any of these because its red day is the fifth day of the week, which even disagrees with their own statement that red was the third day of the week.

Six-day weeks

Soviet calendar, 1933
Six-day work week

From the summer of 1931 until , each Gregorian month was usually divided into five six-day weeks, more and less, as shown by the 1933 calendar displayed here. The sixth day of each week was a uniform day off for all workers, that is days 6, 12, 18, 24 and 30 of each month. The last day of 31-day months was always an extra work day in factories, which, when combined with the first five days of the following month, made six successive work days. But some commercial and government offices treated the 31st day as an extra day off. To make up for the short fifth week of February, was a uniform day off followed by four successive work days in the first week of . The partial last week of February had four work days in common years and five work days in leap years . But some enterprises treated as a regular work day, producing nine or ten successive work days between and , inclusive. The dates of the five national holidays did not change, but they now converted five regular work days into holidays within three six-day weeks rather than splitting those weeks into two parts (none of these holidays was on a "sixth day").

National holidays

On 2 December 1918 several Bolshevik holidays, during which work was prohibited, were decreed. Shilova (2007) lists six ( and are not listed), whereas Malevsky-Malevitch (1933) lists eight: In January 1925, the anniversary of Lenin's Death in 1924 was added on . Although other events were commemorated on other dates, they were not days of rest.

On 24 September 1929, three holidays were eliminated, , , and . Lenin's Day on was merged with . Malevsky-Malevitch (1933) lists separately. Shilova (2007) states that and were expanded to two days each in 1929. The resulting five holidays continued to be celebrated until 1954. Two Journal of Calendar Reform articles (1938 and 1943) have two misunderstandings, specifying and , not realizing that both are Julian calendar dates equivalent to the unspecified Gregorian dates and , so they specify , , , , and , plus a quadrennial leap day.

Gregorian calendar

Soviet pocket calendar, 1931
Numbered five-day work week, excluding five national holidays

The Gregorian calendar was implemented in Russia on by dropping the Julian dates of pursuant to a decree signed (Julian) by Lenin. The decree required that the Julian date was to be written in parentheses after the Gregorian date until All surviving examples of physical calendars from show the irregular month lengths of the Gregorian calendar (such as those displayed here). Most calendars displayed all the days of a Gregorian year as a grid with seven rows or columns for the traditional seven-day week with Sunday first. The 1931 pocket calendar displayed here is a rare example that excluded the five national holidays, enabling the remaining 360 days of the Gregorian year to be displayed as a grid with five rows labeled I–V for each day of the five-day week. Even it had the full Gregorian calendar on the other side. Throughout this period, Pravda, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, and other newspapers continued to use Gregorian calendar dates in their masthead alongside the traditional seven-day week. Pravda dated individual issues with , , , , , , and , but never used during the period . The traditional names of "Resurrection" (Воскресенье) for Sunday and "Sabbath" (Суббота) for Saturday continued to be used, despite the government's officially atheistic policy. In rural areas, the traditional seven-day week continued to be used despite official disfavor. Several sources from the 1930s state that the old Gregorian calendar was not changed. Two modern sources explicitly state that the structure of the Gregorian calendar was not touched.

Erroneous 30-day months

A 1929 Time magazine article announcing Soviet five-day work weeks, which it called an Eternal calendar, associated them with the French Republican Calendar, which had months containing three ten-day weeks. In a government commission proposed a Soviet revolutionary calendar containing twelve 30-day months plus five national holidays that were not part of any month, but it was rejected because it would differ from the Gregorian calendar used by the rest of Europe. Four Journal of Calendar Reform articles (1938, 1940, 1943, 1954) thought that five-day weeks actually were organized into 30-day months, as do several modern sources.

A 1931 Time magazine article announcing six-day weeks stated that they too were organized into 30-day months, with the five national holidays between those months. Two of the Journal of Calendar Reform articles (1938 and 1943) thought that six-day as well as five-day weeks were organized into 30-day months. A couple of modern sources state that five-day weeks plus the first two years of six-day weeks were organized into 30-day months.

Apparently to place the five national holidays between 30-day months since , Parise (1982) shifted Lenin's Day to , left two Days of the Proletariat on , and shifted two Days of the Revolution to and , plus (all Gregorian dates). Stating that all months had 30 days between and , the Oxford Companion to the Year (1999) 'corrected' Parise's list by specifying that "Lenin Day" was after ( Gregorian), a two-day "Workers' First of May" was after ( Gregorian), two "Industry Days" were after ( Gregorian), and placed the leap day after ( Gregorian).


Soviet calendar
12 December 1937
"Sixth day of the six-day week" (just below "12")
"Election day for the Supreme Soviet of the USSR"
Soviet calendar
22 October 1935
"Fourth day of the six-day week" (just below "ОКТЯБРЬ")

During the second half of May 1929, Yurii M. Larin (1882–1932) proposed a continuous production week (nepreryvnaya rabochaya nedelya = nepreryvka) to the Fifth Congress of Soviets of the Union, but so little attention was paid to his suggestion that the president of the Congress did not even mention it in his final speech. By the beginning of , Larin had won the approval of Stalin, prompting all newspapers to praise the idea. On the Supreme Economic Council of the RSFSR directed its efficiency experts to submit within two weeks a plan to introduce continuous production. Before any plan was available, during the first half of , 15% of industry had converted to continuous production according to Larin, probably an overestimate. On the Council of People's Commissars (CPC) of the Soviet Unionmarker (Sovnarkom) declared "it essential that the systematically prepared transition of undertakings and institutions to continuous production should begin during the economic year 1929–1930". The lengths of continuous production weeks were not yet specified, and the conversion was only to begin during the year. Nevertheless, many sources state that the effective date of five-day weeks was which was the beginning of the economic year. But many other lengths of continuous work weeks were used, all of which were gradually introduced.

Implementation of continuous production weeks

Specific lengths for continuous production weeks were first mentioned when rules for the five-day continuous work week were issued on . On building construction and seasonal trades were put on a continuous six-day week, while factories which regularly halted production every month for maintenance were put on six- or seven-day continuous production weeks. In , it was reported that about 50 different versions of the continuous work week were in use, the longest being a 'week' of 37 days (30 continuous days of work followed by seven days of rest). By the end of 1929, orders were issued that the continuous week was to be extended to 43% of industrial workers by and to 67% by . Actual conversion was more rapid, 63% by . In it was decreed that the conversion of all industries was to be completed during the economic year 1930–31, except for the textile industry. But on peak usage was reached, with 72.9% of industrial workers on continuous schedules. Thereafter, usage decreased. All of these official figures were somewhat inflated because some factories said they adopted the continuous week without actually doing so. The continuous week was applied to retail and government workers as well, but no usage figures were ever published.

Implementation of six-day weeks

As early as May 1930, while usage of the continuous week was still advancing, some factories reverted to an interrupted week. On , one of the largest factories in the Soviet Union was put on an interrupted six-day week (Шестидневка = shestidnevka). On , Stalin condemned the continuous work week as then practiced, supporting the temporary use of the interrupted six-day week (one common rest day for all workers) until the problems with the continuous work week could be resolved. During , most factories were put on an interrupted six-day week as the result of an interview with the People's Commissar for Labor, who severely restricted the use of the continuous week. The official conversion to non-continuous schedules was decreed by the CPC of the USSRmarker somewhat later, on . Institutions serving cultural and social needs and those enterprises engaged in continuous production such as ore smelting were exempted. It is often stated that the effective date of the interrupted six-day work week was but that is only the first whole month after the 'official conversion'. The massive summer 1931 conversion made this date after-the-fact and some industries continued to use continuous weeks. The last figures available indicate that on 74.2% of all industrial workers were on non-continuous schedules (almost all six-day weeks) while 25.8% were still on continuous schedules. Due to a decree dated , the traditional interrupted seven-day week with Sunday as the common day of rest was reintroduced on .


  1. Clive Foss, "Stalin's topsy-turvy work week", History Today 54/9 (September 2004) 46–47.
  2. The Riga correspondent of the London Times, "Russian experiments", Journal of Calendar Reform 6 (1936) 69–71.
  3. Eviatar Zerubavel, "The Soviet five-day Nepreryvka", The seven day circle (New York: Free press, 1985) 35–43.
  4. Irina Shilova, "Building the Bolshevik calendar through Pravda and Izvestiia", Toronto Slavic Quarterly No. 19 (Winter 2007). She named the holidays associated with five- and six-day weeks the "Stalin calendar" to distinguish them from the holidays of the previous eleven years, which she called the "Bolshevik calendar".
  5. P. Malevsky-Malevitch, Russia U.S.S.R.: A complete handbook (New York: William Farquhar Payson, 1933) 601–602.
  6. [Solomon M. Schwarz], "The continuous working week in Soviet Russia", International Labour Review 23 (1931) 157–180.
  7. Duncan Steel, Marking Time (New York: John Wiley, 2000) 293–294.
  8. ИЗ ИСТОРИИ ОТЕЧЕСТВЕННОГО КАРМАННОГО КАЛЕНДАРЯ by Дмитрий Малявин ("Calendar stories from reforms in the USSR" by Dmitry Malyavin) Does not mention colors, only numbers.
  9. Lance Latham, Standard C date/time library: Programming the world's calendars and clocks (Lawrence, KS: R&D Books, 1998) 390–392.
  10. Toke Nørby, The Perpetual Calendar: A helpful tool to postal historians: What about Russia?
  11. Oneday, Twoday (Time: 7 October 1929)
  12. R. W. Davies, The Soviet economy in turmoil, 1929–1930 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press, 1989) 84–86, 143–144, 252–256, 469, 544.
  13. Elisabeth Achelis, "Calendar marches on: Russia's difficulties", Journal of Calendar Reform 24 (1954) 91–93.
  14. The Orthodox and Soviet Calendar Reforms
  15. Staggers Unstaggers (Time: 7 December 1931)
  16. Gary Cross, Worktime and industrialization (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988) 202–205.
  17. Solomon M. Schwarz, Labor in the Soviet Union (New York: Praegar, 1951) 258–277.
  18. Elisha M. Friedman, Russia in transition: a business man's appraisal (New York: Viking Press, 1932) 260–262.
  19. Handbook of the Soviet Union (New York: American-Russian Chamber of Commerce, 1936) 524, 526.
  20. On the transfer to … the seven-day work week, …, 26 June 1940 (item 2)

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