February 23, 2011 Holiday – Defender of the Fatherland Day in Russia

Defender of the Fatherland Day is a popular holiday in Russia that officially celebrates people who are serving the Russian Armed Forces, but it has come to include the celebration of men as a whole. The holiday is widely observed throughout the country with parades and processions in honor of veterans. Women present special gifts to important men in their lives, especially husbands, lovers, fathers and sons, but also to friends, co-workers, business associates and bosses.

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Defender of the Fatherland Day in Russian Federation

Quick Facts

Many Russians celebrate Defender of the Fatherland Day on February 23, when they honor military forces and veterans.

Local names

Name Language
День защитника Отечества Russian
Defender of the Fatherland Day English

Defender of the Fatherland Day 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Defender of the Fatherland Day 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012
List of dates for other years

Defender of the Fatherland Day is a popular Russian holiday on February 23, although the date itself has no major historical significance in Russia. The day focuses on the achievements of military forces and veterans.

Russian men who have never served in the military are also congratulated and receive presents on this day.

Monument to Marshal Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov ( Manege Square, Moscow, Russia )
Defender of the Fatherland Day remembers both current and past achievements, particularly military achievements, of many Russians including Red Army leader Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov (statue pictured above). ©iStockphoto.com/dmitriyd

What do people do?

Many Russians observe February 23 as men’s day because military service is obligatory for most men in Russia. Women often give presents and postcards to their male relatives, including those who never served in the military. On a workday before or after the holiday, many women also congratulate their male colleagues and schoolboys may receive small presents from their female classmates.

Russian authorities may organize local parades to honor the military and veterans on this day. It is becoming more common for women who serve in the military to be honored on this day, and this challenges the traditionally masculine aspect of the holiday.

Public life

Defender of the Fatherland Day, which is on February 23, is a public holiday throughout the Russian Federation. Most schools, banks and official buildings are closed on this day. Public transport services may vary in cities that hold a parade.

Background

The reasons behind celebrating Defender of the Fatherland Day on February 23 are unclear, as the date does not coincide with any historical event. Russia first celebrated this day in 1922 as the fourth anniversary of the Red Army. However, Russian leader Vladimir Lenin signed a decree for the creation of a Bolshevik Army on a different date (January 15, 1918). In 1938, Soviet history books started claiming that the Red Army won an important victory over German invaders on February 23, 1918, but no independent sources supported this claim. The Russian Parliament voted to remove it from the holiday’s history in 2006.

Between 1936 and 1990, February 23 was observed as the Soviet Army and Navy Day. It became a workday in 1991. The Russian parliament reintroduced it as a public holiday in 2002, after renaming it as Defender of the Fatherland Day.

Symbols

Common symbols of Defender of the Fatherland Day are a soldier and the Russian flag. These symbols often appear on postcards and congratulatory banners in Russian cities on this day.

Defender of the Fatherland Day Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type
Sat Feb 23 2002 Defender of the Fatherland Day National holiday
Mon Feb 25 2002 Defender of the Fatherland Day observed National holiday
Sun Feb 23 2003 Defender of the Fatherland Day National holiday
Mon Feb 24 2003 Defender of the Fatherland Day observed National holiday
Mon Feb 23 2004 Defender of the Fatherland Day National holiday
Wed Feb 23 2005 Defender of the Fatherland Day National holiday
Thu Feb 23 2006 Defender of the Fatherland Day National holiday
Fri Feb 23 2007 Defender of the Fatherland Day National holiday
Sat Feb 23 2008 Defender of the Fatherland Day National holiday
Mon Feb 25 2008 Defender of the Fatherland Day observed National holiday
Mon Feb 23 2009 Defender of the Fatherland Day National holiday
Tue Feb 23 2010 Defender of the Fatherland Day National holiday
Wed Feb 23 2011 Defender of the Fatherland Day National holiday
Thu Feb 23 2012 Defender of the Fatherland Day National holiday
Sat Feb 23 2013 Defender of the Fatherland Day National holiday
Mon Feb 25 2013 Defender of the Fatherland Day observed National holiday
Sun Feb 23 2014 Defender of the Fatherland Day National holiday
Mon Feb 24 2014 Defender of the Fatherland Day observed National holiday
Mon Feb 23 2015 Defender of the Fatherland Day National holiday

Other holidays in February 2011 in Russian Federation

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