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Victory Day in Russia

Many Russians celebrate Victory Day on May 9. On this day, TV networks broadcast World War II-inspired films, younger generations honor veterans, and the festivities culminate in a military parade at Moscow’s Red Square.

Is Victory Day a Public Holiday?

Victory Day is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

9 may ,Victory Day in Russia (focus point on hand)

A war veteran takes part in Victory Day.

©iStockphoto.com/Kuzma

What Do People Do?

Many people attend a local military parade and watch the fireworks at night on Victory Day. The biggest parade is in Moscow’s Red Square, showcasing Russia’s military forces. Most veterans wear their medals as they head to the parade or an event organized by a local veteran organization.

Another tradition is to give flowers, usually red carnations, to veterans in the street and to lay wreaths at the war memorial sites. Neighborhood schools may host a program prepared by the students, featuring wartime songs and poetry.

At home, families gather around a festive table to honor surviving witnesses of World War II and remember those who passed away. They may also watch a favorite Soviet film based on the events of World War II, which is also known as the Great Patriotic War. These films are repeated each year but the audience seems to never grow tired of them.

Public Life

Victory Day is a national holiday in Russia. Public offices, schools and most businesses are closed for the celebrations. There may be changes in public transport routes due to parades and street performances.

Background

Victory Day marks Germany’s surrender to the Soviet Union in 1945. It became the end of the Great Patriotic War for the USSR, which lost about 25 million citizens in the four years of fighting. Interestingly, until its 20th anniversary (May 9, 1965), Victory Day was not a major holiday, unlike, for instance, May 1, and was considered a work day. Apart from the anniversaries in 1965 and 1985, Victory Day celebrations in the Soviet Union did not feature a military parade. This tradition started in 1995.

Update: In October 2012, Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree that would extend the Victory Day Celebrations from Thursday, May 9, 2013 to Sunday, May 12, 2013.

Symbols

Common symbols of Victory Day in Russia are:

  • St. George ribbon – people wear this black-and-yellow ribbon on their clothes or tie it to car antennas as a sign of respect and remembrance.
  • Red carnations – blood red is the color of the Soviet flag under which the veterans had fought. Laying an even number of red carnations at war memorial sites signifies mourning and remembrance.
  • Red Star medal – a military distinction for bravery.

The St George ribbon, red carnations and the Red Star medal are seen on Victory Day.

Victory Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2010SunMay 9Victory DayNational holiday
2010MonMay 10Victory Day observedNational holiday
2011MonMay 9Victory DayNational holiday
2012WedMay 9Victory DayNational holiday
2013ThuMay 9Victory DayNational holiday
2014FriMay 9Victory DayNational holiday
2015SatMay 9Victory DayNational holiday
2015MonMay 11Victory Day observedNational holiday
2016MonMay 9Victory DayNational holiday
2017TueMay 9Victory DayNational holiday
2018WedMay 9Victory DayNational holiday
2019ThuMay 9Victory DayNational holiday
2020SatMay 9Victory DayNational holiday
2020MonMay 11Victory Day observedNational holiday

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