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February 23: Protector of the Motherland Day

February 23, 2012

The Protector of the Motherland Day in Russia is an official holiday and one of the most beloved celebrations of all Russian men. It combines the meanings behind the United States’ Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and Father`s Day.

The holiday marks the date in 1918 during the Russian Civil War when the first mass draft into the Red Army occurred in Saint Petersburg (Petrograd) and Moscow. It was originally known as Red Army Day. In 1949, it was renamed Soviet Army and Navy Day. Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the holiday was given its current name. And it is also recognized in some of the former republic of the Soviet Union, such as Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Belarus.

Popularly referred to as “Men’s Day,” the holiday officially celebrates the members of the Russian military and all who serve and have served in defense of the nation. But 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.

On the holiday women give presents to the Russian men in their lives, especially husbands (or boyfriends), fathers and sons. As a part of the workplace culture, women often give small presents to their male co-workers.

If you find yourself in Russia close to the 23rd of February you may begin to notice an increasing number of military uniforms, old and new. You will see people including children and local authorities lay flowers on the graves of fallen solders and military parades organized around the major war memorials. You may watch military shows with military songs and dances of XVII – XX centuries in the major concert halls. But evening is the most expected part of the day – if you happen to be in the center of any city in Russia you will see the skies flaming with magnificent rainbow fireworks. And you will not be alone as this day unite the whole nation and brings cheerful spirit to everyone. So if you are a true warrior or a lady whose heart is taken by her brave defender Russkie Prostori can organize a tour for you and you will witness yourself or even participate in one of the favorite celebrations in Russia.

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