On February 23rd, Russia celebrates Defender of the Fatherland Day. On this special occasion, most offices, banks and official buildings, including consulate and visa centers, are closed. This year Russians will be taking February 23rd, and February 24th as a public holiday.
Defender of the Fatherland day is observed in Russia and several other former Soviet republics to commemorate the veterans and members of the Armed Forces, mostly men, but also women, who currently serve, or who have previously served, in the military. People treat it not as just a military celebration, but as a universal men’s holiday, an opportunity to congratulate all men of the country.
The history of the holiday
This day traces its history to 1922, when the fourth anniversary of Red Army was celebrated. However, some historians argue that this special day is in fact celebrated, to laud the Red Army’s first important victory over German invaders in 1918.
Between 1936 and 1990, February 23rd was observed as the Soviet Army and Navy Day. In more recent times, it ceased to be a public holiday in 1991 before being reinstated in 2002.
How do people celebrate this day?
Though this day honors the military as a whole, many Russians regard February 23rd as men’s day because military service is obligatory for most men in Russia. Colloquially, it's a day of real men, broadly speaking, defenders, day to honor them for their force, courage and spirit.
Women often give presents and postcards to their male relatives and friends, including those who never served in the military. On a workday before the holiday, many women also congratulate their male colleagues, and schoolboys may receive greeting cards and small presents from their female classmates. At schools and nurseries girls do simple crafts and banners to present to their fathers and other male relatives.
Russian authorities may organize local parades and fireworks to honor the military and veterans on this day. The Russian President, military leaders, and representatives of Parliament and the Government, traditionally attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Alexander Garden’s near the Kremlin walls.
We wholeheartedly congratulate all our male colleagues, and everyone who will be celebrating this day!