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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 6 - Victory Day.
In this lesson, we will talk about a holiday that is very important not only for Russia, but for all the Commonwealth countries. It’s Victory Day, or in Russian, День Победы (Den' Pabedy). Victory Day celebrates the victory of the Soviet people over Germany in World War II, or as it's referred to in Russia, the Great Patriotic War. Victory Day is observed on May 9 every year.
Now, before we go into more detail, we’ve got a question for you- what flower is typically given to the war veterans on May 9?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep listening!
As we know from history, on May 8, 1945, Germany signed the Act of Military Surrender. On May 9, all newspapers and radio stations announced the Soviet Union’s complete victory, and the day was filled with all-encompassing joy. People cried and hugged each other in their happiness. Victory Day was officially declared as a day off work in 1965. Nowadays, May 9 is first and foremost a celebration of all the people who fought to defend Russia and sacrificed their lives in the process.
In Moscow on May 9, a massive military parade is held on the Red Square or Красная площадь (krasnaya ploshchad'). People can not only see a grand demonstration of military equipment, but also enjoy advanced aerobatic displays by the aerobatic teams “Swifts,” or Стрижи (strigy) and Russian Knights, or Русские витязи (Russkie vityazi). On this day, people also lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the whole country honors the memory of the fallen with a minute of silence. Festive fireworks take place in the evening.
On May 9, meetings of war veterans are held in almost all cities. On this day, all war veterans wear their dress uniforms, which are decorated with orders and medals, and meet in parks and reminisce about the war and their fallen comrades. In Moscow, a meeting of veterans takes place near the Bolshoi Theatre, or in Russian, Большой театр (balshoy teatr). Ordinary people approach them, give them flowers, and speak words of gratitude for the peacefulness enjoyed by the general public.
In 2005, a unique initiative took place. A group of volunteers handed out orange and black ribbons to all drivers who wanted to show their respect for the holiday. Many people were so enthusiastic to show their support that there weren’t enough ribbons for everyone. Since then, on Victory Day, many Russian people have attached ribbons to their cars and even to their purses and clothes.
So returning to our earlier quiz, what flower is typically given to the war veterans on May 9?
On May 9, veterans are typically given carnations. Carnation in Russian is гвоздика (gvazdika). Carnations are considered to be the flower of the victorious soldier. In the Soviet Union, carnations were the symbol of victory over Germany.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything new?
Do you have a holiday related to war in your country?
Leave a comment at RussianPod101.com, and I’ll see you in the next lesson!