Defender of the Fatherland Day
|Defender of the Fatherland Day|
|Observed by||Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan|
|Significance||Celebrates the armed forces and commemorates the founding of the Red Army|
|Observances||Wreath laying ceremonies, concerts, parades|
|Next time||23 February 2019|
Defender of the Fatherland Day (Russian: День защитника Отечества Den' zashchitnika Otechestva); Kazakh: Отан қорғаушы күні; Tajik: Рӯзи артиши миллӣ; Kyrgyz: Мекенди коргоочулардын күнү; Belarusian: Дзень абаронцы Айчыны) is a holiday observed in Russia, Turkmenistan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. It is celebrated on 23 February, except in Kazakhstan, where it is celebrated on 7 May.
First celebrated in 1919, the holiday marks the date in 1918 during the Russian Civil War when the first mass draft into the Red Army occurred in Petrograd and Moscow (on 17 February). In January 1919, it was decided to combine the celebration of that day with the anniversary of the publication of the decree on the establishment of the Red Army (of 18 February 1918). In 1919, 17 February fell on a Monday, so it was decided to move the holiday to the nearest Sunday – 23 February. Since then it stayed that day. It was originally known as "Red Army Day" (Russian: День Красной Армии). In 1923, it was officially named Day of the Red Army and the Navy.
In 1949, it was renamed Soviet Army and Navy Day (Russian: День Советской Армии и Военно-Морского флота, translit. Dyen' Sovyetskoy Armii i Voyenno-Morskogo flota). Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the holiday was given its current name in 2002 by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who decreed it a state holiday (in Russia).
Celebrations in Russia and worldwide
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Officially, as the name suggests, the holiday celebrates people who are serving or were serving the Russian Armed Forces (both men and women, both military and civilian personnel), but unofficially, nationally it has also more recently come to include the celebration of men as a whole, and to act as a counterpart of International Women's Day on March 8.
The holiday is celebrated with parades and processions in honor of veterans, and women also give small gifts to men in their lives, especially husbands (or boyfriends, fiances), fathers, sons and brothers. As a part of the workplace culture, women often give small gifts to their male co-workers. Consequently, in colloquial usage, the holiday is often referred to as "Men's Day" (Russian: День Мужчин, translit. Den' Muzhchin).
One of the holiday traditions in Moscow is a ceremony near the Kremlin, the laying of wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Russian President, the heads of both chambers of parliament, military leaders, representatives of other branches of government, heads of political parties as well as Russian Orthodox Church officials arrive at the Alexander Garden which is located near the Moscow Kremlin walls. After a moment of silence, the national anthem is played and a solemn march of an honour guard unit passes. In the evening, the country's leadership is present at a concert dedicated to the holiday on the State Kremlin Palace. Also in the evening in Moscow and in many other cities of Russia, fireworks are displayed.
In other countries
In Belarus, the holiday celebrates the date of February 23, 1918, the day Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus was founded. Traditionally, on February 23, the president lays a wreath at the monument on Victory Square in Minsk on the Day of Fatherland Defenders.
In Kyrgyzstan, Defender of the Fatherland Day is a non-working holiday. In Bishkek, there is a military parade of the Bishkek Garrison.The holiday was first introduced in the country by the Government of Kyrgyzstan on January 20, 2003. The Kyrgyz Army have their own professional holiday on May 29, which is the Day of the Armed Forces of Kyrgyzstan.
In Tajikistan, the holiday is known as "Tajik National Army Day" (Tajik: Рӯзи Артиши Миллӣ Тоҷик), celebrating the Tajik National Army. However, it has been known that other military units, such as the Tajik Air Force, have taken part in the celebration.
In Ukraine, Defender of the Fatherland Day (Ukrainian: День захисника Вітчизни/ Den' zakhysnyka Vitchyzny) was never celebrated as a state holiday. In 1999 President Leonid Kuchma recognized 23 February as Defenders of the Fatherland Day. President Petro Poroshenko deprived the day of this status on 24 August 2014; according to Poroshenko, Ukraine should not celebrate the holidays of the "military-historical calendar of Russia" but "will honor the defenders of our homeland, not someone else's". On 14 October 2014, a decree by Poroshenko moved the celebration to that day instead by creating Defender of Ukraine Day.
Today, even though it is not a public holiday, many women will still give some extra attention to male relatives, friends, husbands and boyfriends, especially to those serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Armed Forces Day for the entire Armed Forces is celebrated yearly on 6 December with special programs and nationwide gun salutes and fireworks displays.
- (in Ukrainian) Таємниця 23 лютого. Українцям є що святкувати "'Mystery of February 23. Ukrainians have something to celebrate", Ukrayinska Pravda (23 February 2013)
- Russian Nationalism and the National Reassertion of Russia by Marlène Laruelle, Taylor & Francis, 2009, ISBN 0415484464 (page 245)
- В День защитника Отечества Святейший Патриарх Кирилл возложил венок к могиле Неизвестного солдата у Кремлевской стены
- "Военный парад прошел в Киргизии в День защитника Отечества". РИА Новости (in Russian). 2012-02-23. Retrieved 2017-09-04.
- Тимофеенко, Анна (2012-02-23). "В Бишкеке прошли показательные выступления Бишкекского гарнизона и духового оркестра Минобороны". K-News (in Russian). Retrieved 2017-12-20.
- John Pike. "Tajikistan- Air Force". globalsecurity.org.
- Uncertain Defenders of the Motherland Day, Kyiv Weekly (27 February 2012)
- Law regarding Defender of the Fatherland Day Legislation of Ukraine
- (in Ukrainian) Poroshenko: Ukraine will never celebrate February 23 , TVi (24 August 2014)
English-language translation of Poroshenko's Independence Day remarks in Kyiv, Kyiv Post (24 August 2014)
- Ukraine's Defenders Day to be observed on October 14, February 23 celebration canceled, Interfax-Ukraine (14 October 2014)
- President proclaimed October 14 the Day of Defender of Ukraine, president.gov.ua (14 October 2014)
- Ukrainian Holidays, Optima Tours
Feminists Contest Politics and Philosophy (Philosophy and Politics), Peter Lang, 2005, ISBN 978-90-5201-252-0 (page 197)
- Culture Smart! Ukraine by Anna Shevchenko, Kuperard, 2006, ISBN 978-1-85733-327-5
- Defender of the Fatherland Day: What do Russians Celebrate and How, Sputnik News (February 23, 2016)
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