Posts tagged ‘23rf February’

February 24, 2011

The 23rd February – Day of the Defender

Long live the invincible Red Army...Celebrated since 1922,  February 23rd  is a national holiday in Russia – Defender of the Motherland Day. In the Soviet Union it was first called Red Army Day, renamed Red Army and Navy Day in 1949. In 1995 it got renamed for the last time so far – Defender of the Motherland Day. Since 2002 it has become a bank holiday.

To cite Wikipedia: “… as the name suggests, the holiday celebrates people who are serving or were serving the 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.”

Actually the holiday is getting a lot of flak lately. From women who do not wish to praise men who are not serving or did not serve in the Armed Forces, and from some historians that have come to the conclusion that there is actually nothing to celebrate.

The origins of the holiday are indeed unclear. In 1995 the State Duma* passed a federal statute dealing with state holidays connected to the military glory of Russia and February 23rd is mentioned as a day of victory over Kaizer Germany. Unfortunately that is not what really happened. While the February offensive against Russia did bring closer the defeat of Germany in the WWI, for the young Soviet Republic it brought the notorious Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

Other sources claim that the 23rd February 1918 is the birth date of the Red Army.  There were calls for a mass draft that day, but they remained largely unheard. According to Leon Trotsky** in february 1918 the Red Army counted less than 2000 men. So, no invincible Red Army either.

The great holiday is a big fat lie. But  it has been celebrated for nearly 90 years already and I reckon it has collected some value by itself. Every man, every boy this day has a chance to think about his role as a defender of his country, his Motherland. His responsibilities for his family, for his relatives, for those that he cares about. Every year he gets a chance to become slightly better, slightly more responsible. And I think that maybe, maybe it was not such a bad lie. A man becoming better certainly deserves a celebration.

* The Lower chamber of the Russian Parliament (Federal Assembley of Russian Federation). The Upper chamber is called the Federal Council of the Russian Federation.

** I will tell more about him later. Now it will suffice to say that he was a founder of the Red Army and People’s Commissar of War.