In Russian, в is used for days of the week, for instance в средy = on Wednesday.

However на is used for special days like на Рождество = at Christmas, на Пасху = at Easter. I think maybe both of these can refer to a period of more than one day (thus, "at" Christmas, "at" Easter), or perhaps they refer specifically to a single day (on Christmas Day, on Easter Sunday)?

Also на + day of the week is used in expressions like в ночь со вторника на среду = overnight, on the night that starts on Tuesday evening and ends on Wednesday morning. The shorter expression в ночь на среду also means the same thing. Is there any other context that uses на + day of the week?

Similarly, the expression в ночь на Рождество means the night that starts on Christmas Eve and ends on Christmas morning.

However, the expression в ночь на Хэллоуин means Halloween night. It is not the night that ends on the morning of October 31, but the night that begins on the evening of October 31.

Am I understanding something incorrectly, or is this last expression inconsistent with all the other на + day expressions?

  • I find it ironic that most words transliterated into Russian that have an 'A' sound as in 'cat' use 'Э', but one of the few times when it is pronounced 'ah' as in 'Halloween' 'Э' is used instead. Maybe it's just me. – casey Mar 15 '16 at 19:16
  • 1
    @Casey, that's because Russian doesn't have sound precisely equal to "a" in "cat". At school we are taught the following way to pronounce it: "Open your mouth, like when you want to say Russian "a", but say "э" instead". Many people forget about opening the mouth wider, and just say "э". As a result, this sound in Russian mind is associated mostly with "э" (while Russian "а" is associated with sounds like in English "far" and "cut"). In transliteration it is also generally accepted to use "э" for this sound, both in written and oral speech. But some people use "a", as well. – Lara Mar 16 '16 at 7:52
  • @Lara I was just noting that most people I know pronounce 'Halloween' with a Russian-like 'а' sound, so it could potentially have been spelled 'Халлоуин'. – casey Mar 16 '16 at 10:48

1) "На Рождество" = January, 7th.
"В Рождество" - colloquial form for "на Рождество". Both forms refers to an exact date. Despite the fact "на Рождество" sounds similar to "на днях".
"Где-то под Рождество" ≈ January 3rd - 7th.
"Примерно на Рождество" ≈ January 5th - 9th.

Note: if you refer to December, 25th, then you should use "на католическое Рождество".

2) Also на + day of the week is used in expressions like в ночь со вторника на среду = overnight

That's correct.

3) However, the expression в ночь на Хэллоуин means Halloween night.

That's a calque from English. In Russia, Halloween was not celebrated until the 90s at all, and it's celebrated mostly by teenagers now. So there is no exact public opinion regarding how we should call the celebration. "Ночь на Хэллоуин" looks like random colloquial form, which makes native speakers question, whether we should celebrate it on October 30th, or 31th.

4) There are common forms for future periods, such as "на завтра". They are used when doing something now, but the result of the actions will be of use in the future.

"Давай договоримся [о встрече] на завтра" ≠ "Давай договоримся о встрече завтра".
First is for making an arragement (for tomorrow meeting) now, in the second variant the arragement will not happen now, it would be done tomorrow.

"На следующую неделю/месяц/сезон/год"
"Давай на следующий год ребёнку купим лыжи" ≠ "давай в следующем году купим ребёнку лыжи". Second is for buying skis next year, when the snow will fall. First (depending on context) may refer to the same as second, but it also can mean buying skis now (so the kid is going to use it next year).

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