February 23 in Russia: Defender of Fatherland Day

February 23 in Russia: Defender of Fatherland Day

Many people believe that Russia is so fond of holidays, that there are even national holidays created especially for men (February 23) and women (8 March). Indeed, on February 23, men of all professions and ages, including the youngest ones, are being celebrated and congratulated. But what is the background of this celebration and is it, indeed, a male holiday?

Some history and controversies

During its existence, the holiday on February 23 has changed names many times, starting with Red Army Day, until its current moniker of Defender of the Fatherland Day. However, despite the fact of these strong sounding names, the history of this holiday is not as glorious as it might seem at the first glance.

It is believed that this day was originally devoted to the decree on the establishment of the Red Army in 1918, when the government of the new Soviet state had only just been formed and the country experienced attacks from German and Austro-Hungarian troops. Despite the loud and encouraging slogans, the army was not formed in the end as many of the volunteers deserted while the troops continued to move forward. As a result, in the same year the German ultimatum was adopted, and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was subsequently signed, entirely on German terms.

The date of the holiday, according to modern historians, was fixed entirely by accident: initially, the date of the celebration was supposed to be February 17, because the government thought to combine it with the Day of the Red Gift, which was planned as a charity event, when the population collected gifts for the Red Army; then, due to the fact that in 1919 this day fell on a Monday, the celebration was postponed to the following Sunday, falling on the date of February 23.

In the following few years, this holiday was temporarily forgotten, until 1923, when the 5th anniversary of the Red Army was announced and celebrated by the whole Union. With the passage of time, information about the German ultimatum was gradually forgotten and replaced by the theory that on February 23, 1918, the Red Army won a decisive victory near Narva and Pskov, which is not a proven fact up to this day. However, there is an opinion that due to the annual celebration of the Red Army Day, Soviet people’s attitude to the defense of their country in World War II changed drastically, as many people were willing to give their lives for the protection of the Fatherland.

In 1946, the holiday was renamed as the Soviet Army and Navy Day and became especially favored. On this day, all the soldiers who participated in World War II, and at the very beginning they formed a sufficient part of the population, were honored by others. Over the course of time, the tradition gradually developed into a congratulations to all men, due to the increasingly common military duty in the country.

However, do not believe that this holiday is an exclusively male one, as it has always been known that some women, as well as men, also risked their lives to protect other citizens from various dangers and disasters. Thus, it is regarded that this holiday is related not only to the men, but to all of the employees of the armed forces, war veterans and all defenders of the Russian Federation, regardless of their gender.

D’Andrea & Partners congratulates everyone with Defender of the Fatherland Day and wishes the very best to all our protectors!

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