Novoday: How to Create a Holiday

Sixteen years ago, my jovial friend Alexander Feoktistov and I, along with a few colleagues whose identities shall remain secret, created a new holiday. We wanted to offer people an opportunity to engage in something meaningful during the extra day provided by the leap year, February 29.

The concept emerged one dark January evening in 2008 when, after a couple of drinks, we realised that everyone loves holidays, and the leap year gave us the perfect excuse to introduce a new day of celebration. We decided to create an occasion that encouraged people to do something they had always postponed, turning an ordinary day into an extraordinary opportunity for personal accomplishment and community engagement.

And just like that, Novoday was born.

We quickly acted, arranging a stage at the central square, securing all the necessary permits, and even inviting a local rock band for a surprise concert. We also set up a website with a simple set of rules for Novoday:

  • Decide what you want to do;
  • Share it on our website or social media (yes, kids, there was social media in 2008!);
  • Do the thing you decided to do;
  • Publish a report or come outside and release a balloon to celebrate your achievement.

To our delight, the response was overwhelming. Several Russian cities joined in the celebration, and folks from Ukraine, the United States, Kazakhstan, Germany, and New Zealand also participated. In Novosibirsk alone, 500 people gathered in the central square. Overall, thousands celebrated the very first Novoday worldwide. The media coverage was extensive, with dozens of articles, TV segments, and radio reports.

Although we envisioned Novoday as a regular celebration, it naturally tapered off as we moved on to other projects. However, the holiday made an unexpected comeback in 2011 when people spontaneously started sharing their achievements on the last day of February, proving that the spirit of Novoday still resonated with many.