This morning, I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from one of my students. She was born and raised in Russia, and is a dedicated, committed student. She will make a great attorney. She explained to me that flowers are traditionally given to teachers on Knowledge Day, which is celebrated on September 1 in Russia and other former Soviet republics. September 1 is when school traditionally starts and, according to Wikipedia, "marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn." The illustration also comes from the Wikipedia article on Knowledge Day. There are many rituals associated with this special day, including celebratory assemblies and the ringing of the first bell of the school year. My student told me that the fact that the first day of school is celebrated with such joy is an indication of the importance of education to the Russian people.
In doing some research on this topic, I discovered that this year Knowledge Day marks the official opening to the public of Russia's new digital library. According to this article, the "library provides access to almost 40,000 books and more than 43 million documents ...concern[ing] Russian history." It is the largest digitization project to be undertaken so far in Russia. There will be unique documents, such as orders from Czar Peter the Great and letters from Empress Catherine the Great to the French philosopher Voltaire.