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Russian Men’s Day: Defender of the Fatherland Day in Russia

Defender of the Fatherland Day (or День защитника Отечества) is a significant celebration to the Russian people. Formerly known as Red Army Day, Defender of the Fatherland Day is set aside to honor and celebrate those who serve (or have served) in the Russian army.

Learn the Russian language in context by exploring the country’s various holidays. By learning about Defender’s Day in Russia, you’re also allowing yourself to better understand the Russian culture and showing respect for its defenders as well.

Let RussianPod101.com guide you through the various aspects of Russian Army Day, including Defender of the Fatherland Day traditions.

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1. What is Russian Defender of the Fatherland Day?

Defender of the Fatherland Day, or in Russian, День защитника Отечества (Den’ zashchitnika atechestva), is the day reserved to celebrate those who defend the peace of Russia.

This holiday emerged after the 1918 Revolution and was initially called “Red Army Day” or in Russian День красной армии (Den’ krasnay armii). In the 1940s it was renamed “the Day of the Soviet Army,” or День советской армии (Den’ savetskay armii), then the holiday received its present name in 1995.

Nowadays most Russians consider this holiday a “men’s day.” This is related to the existence of a conscription law in Russia. Consequently, every young man who has served in the army, or в армии (v armii) in Russian, is already considered “a defender of his Fatherland.” “Fatherland” in Russian is Отечество (Atechestva).

2. When is Defender’s Day in Russia?

Defender of Fatherland Day on February 23

Russia celebrates Defender of the Fatherland Day each year on February 23. The 23 of February was chosen as this holiday’s date simply because it’s the Sunday just after the two events it commemorates:

  • Red Army drafts on February 17, 1918
  • Red Army establishment on February 18, 1918

3. Defender of the Fatherland Day Traditions

Celebrating with Fireworks

The holiday is celebrated at home or at a gathering at someone’s house. On that day, men not only receive presents, but there may also be parties at their places of work. While there’s not really a special Defender of the Fatherland Day food, we’re sure that men enjoy receiving a good home-cooked meal or tasty snack on this day.

On February 23, in many Russian cities, mass public events such as military parades, stunt performances, fairs, and car races take place. In Moskva, or Moscow in English, Sankt-Peterburg, or Saint Petersburg in English, Murmansk, and Smolensk, you can see festive fireworks.

Further, Defender of the Fatherland congratulations take place. This is a way of showing great appreciation and gratitude to those who are serving in the Russian army (or those who have served in the past).

There’s an interesting tradition in Moscow—the President lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which in Russian is called Могила неизвестного солдата (Magila neizvesnava saldata), and this is followed by a minute of silence and the National Anthem.

4. Additional Information

This is considered a masculine holiday in Russia (and is even known as “Men’s Day”), but what about the women who serve in the army? Are they also recognized and celebrated on Defender of the Fatherland Day? Read the Russian text below to find out (you can find the English translation below it).

—–

Оказывается, мужчины ждут своих подарков и внимания на 23 февраля не меньше, чем женщины на 8 марта. По этому поводу в России даже говорят:
“Как встретишь 23 февраля, так 8 марта и проведешь.”
В России женщин, которые служат в вооруженных силах, тоже поздравляют с праздником 23 февраля. Ну а как? Они же тоже, получается, защитницы нашей Родины - России.

—–
As it turns out, men look forward to receiving presents and attention on February 23 no less than women do on March 8, which is International Women’s Day, or in Russian, Международный женский день (Mezhdunarodnyy zhenskiy den’). In Russia there’s even a saying:

“How you celebrate February 23 shows how you’ll celebrate March 8.”

In Russia, the women who serve in the armed forces also receive congratulations on February 23. How else should it be? They are defenders of the Fatherland as well.

5. Must-know Vocab

Russian Army

Now that we’ve gone over holiday information, here’ some vocabulary you should know to better understand the day and celebrate it to the fullest.

  • Мужчина (muschina) — “man”
  • Солдат (soldat) — “soldier”
  • Подарок (podarok) — “present”
  • почтовая открытка (pachtovaya atkrytka) — “postcard”
  • Ветеран (veteran) — “veteran”
  • Салют (salyut) — “firework”
  • Патриотизм (patriatizm) — “patriotism”
  • Армия (armiya) — “army”
  • военный парад (voyennyy parad) — “military parade”
  • Родина (Rodina) — “motherland”
  • воинская служба (voinskaya sluzhba) — “military service”
  • 23 февраля (23 fevralya) — “February 23”
  • Защитник (zashchitnik) — “defender”
  • Поздравление (pazdravleniye) — “congratulation”
  • красная гвоздика (krasnaya gvazdika) — “red carnation”
  • День защитника Отечества (Den’ zashchitnika Otechestva) — “Defender of the Fatherland Day”

If you want to hear each vocabulary word’s pronunciation, check out our Russian Defender of the Fatherland Day vocabulary list. Here, you’ll find each word accompanied by an audio of its pronunciation.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed learning about Defender’s Day in Russia. What do you think of День защитника Отечества or Russia’s Defender of the Fatherland Day? Is there a similar holiday in your own country? Let us know in the comments!

For more information on Russian culture and the Russian language, visit us at RussianPod101.com. We offer an array of insightful blog posts, free vocabulary lists, and an online community to discuss lessons with fellow Russian students! You can even download our MyTeacher app for a one-on-one learning experience with your own personal Russian teacher.

Until next time, keep studying hard and practicing your vocabulary. And stay tuned for more Russian holiday articles. You’ll be a master of the Russian language and the country’s culture before you know it!

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