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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Russia Series at RussianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Russian holidays and observances. I’m Jenny, and you're listening to Season 1 Lesson 3, Defender of the Fatherland Day.
Do you know which holiday is considered to be the most masculine holiday in Russia? In this lesson, you will learn about a very unique Russian holiday, the Defender of the Fatherland Day, or in Russian,День защитника Отечества (Den' zashchitnika atechestva,) which is the day reserved to celebrate those who defend the peace of Russia. We will also learn about its history and the way it's usually observed in Russia.
Now, before we go into more detail, we've got a question for you- do you think women receive congratulations on this day as well, and if so, why?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep listening!
Defender of the Fatherland Day is observed every year on February 23. 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). 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.
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. There is 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.
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 is even a saying, “How you celebrate February 23 shows how you’ll celebrate March 8.”
So listeners, do you think women receive congratulations on this day, and if so, why?
In Russia, the women who serve in the armed forces also receive congratulations on February 23. Of course! How else should it be? They are defenders of the Fatherland as well.
So, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything new?
Is “Defender of the Fatherland Day” celebrated in your country?
Leave a comment at RussianPod101.com, and I’ll see you in the next lesson!