Defender of the Fatherland Day

Defender of the Fatherland Day

Defender of the Fatherland Day (Russian: День защитника Отечества / Dyen' zashchitnika Otechestva, Ukrainian: День захисника Вітчизни) is a holiday observed in Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine,[1] Belarus and several other former republics of the Soviet Union. It is celebrated on February 23.



The holiday marks the date in 1918 during the Russian Civil War when the first mass draft into the Red Army occurred in Petrograd and Moscow. It was originally known as Red Army Day (Russian: День Красной Армии / Dyen' Krasnoy Armii). In 1949, it was renamed Soviet Army and Navy Day (Russian: День Советской Армии и Военно-Морского флота / Dyen' Sovyetskoy Armii i Voyenno-Morskogo flota). Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the holiday was given its current name.


The 2008 holiday, with ceremonies being performed by President Putin.

In Russia

Officially, as the name suggests, the holiday celebrates people who are serving or were serving the Russian Armed Forces (both men and women), but unofficially, nationally it has also more recently come to include the celebration of men as a whole, and to act as a counterpart of International Women's Day on March 8.

The holiday is celebrated with parades and processions in honor of veterans, and women also give small gifts to the Russian men in their lives, especially husbands (or boyfriends), fathers and sons. As a part of the workplace culture, women often give gifts to their male co-workers. Consequently, in colloquial usage, the holiday is often referred to as Men's Day (Russian: День Мужчин, Den' Muzhchin).

In Chechnya and Ingushetia this holiday is celebrated with mixed feelings,[2] because February 23, 1944 is the date of the mass deportations of Chechens and Ingush to Central Asia.[3] (See also, Operation Lentil, Population transfer in the Soviet Union) The entire holiday is extremely controversial for Chechens and Ingush because of the date.[citation needed]

In Tajikistan

In Tajikistan, the holiday is known as Tajik National Army Day (Tajik: Рӯзи Артиши Миллӣ Тоҷик).

In Ukraine

In Ukraine it is not a public holiday, but most women do give some extra attention to male relatives, friends, husbands and boyfriends.[4][5][6] The Ukrainian army has its own Army Day on December 6.[6]


  1. ^ Law regarding Defender of the Motherland Day Legislation of Ukraine
  2. ^ Global Voices Online [1]
  3. ^ Remembering Stalin's deportations, BBC News, [2]
  4. ^ Ukrainian Holidays, Optima Tours
  5. ^ Feminists Contest Politics and Philosophy (Philosophy and Politics), Peter Lang, 2005, ISBN-13: 978-9052012520 (page 197)
  6. ^ a b Culture Smart! Ukraine by Anna Shevchenko, Kuperard, 2006, ISBN 9781857333275

External links

Calendar icon.svg Holidays portal

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