Children of October


When I started school in Soviet Russia at age seven (the typical age for starting school in the 1980s), and shortly after first introductions we were all given a shiny golden color pin to wear. The pin depicted Lenin’s child portrait, encircled in a red five pointed star. We were lined up in the school corridor and in a solemn ceremony the older schoolchildren, who wore red Pioneer scarves, affixed those shiny Lenin’s pins onto our uniforms.

Lenin’s pins were affixed on the left side, close by our hearts, and we were instructed to never take them off while wearing our school uniform. That much we understood.


Traditional Lenin’s pin worn by elementary school children


From now on we were called “the Children of October.” In Russian it’s oktyabryAta from Russian word October oktyAbr’.

What that practically meant for us at age seven, we didn’t fully know. It wasn’t a choice. No one had asked as, “Would you like to join the Great Soviet socialist organization and be the youngest Lenin’s helpers in promoting the Bolsheviks’ ideas and ideals?”

No. We came to school.
They put a Lenin’s pin on us.
We were all official. It was now part of our daily uniform until fourth grade, when we were then promoted to the next level of socialist ideological career path… Lenin’s junior youth helpers, the Pioneers.

Later, I learned that the so called Great October 1917 Revolution didn’t even happen in October. According to the 1917 old style Julian calendar, it was in the month of November (November 7). A year later in 1918 Lenin signed a decree denouncing the old style Julian calendar and accepting the Gregorian “new style” calendar.

So, technically, we grew up being called “The Children of October” after the month of October even though the revolution didn’t happen in October.

However, on November 7 (the old style calendar) Soviet Russia celebrated with a huge military parade in each major city, from Moscow Red Square to Siberian villages, to commemorate the actual day when the Revolution did take place.

Then why were we called the Children of October and not the Children of November, novembrists?

It was so confusing, but as it typically went for those growing up in a military dictatorship, no one dared to ask such questions. Can you imagine coming to your party boss and asking, “Why do we celebrate October Revolution in November, but call our Lenin’s helpers Octobrists?”

Doing as you were told, verbalizing no second opinion, and not thinking much about various inconsistencies and contradictions, was the only way to survive. And by far, it was one of the best ways to promote up the socialist career path.

 Best Wishes,

A. Stork