February 23rd – The Defenders of the Fatherland Day

February 23rd – The Defenders of the Fatherland Day
22 February 2015

This day was first celebrated in 1918, when it was first named День Красной Армии (Red Army Day). Years later it was changed to День Советской Армии и Военно-Морского флота (Soviet Army and Navy Day) and it remained as such until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In 2002, this day was given its current name, День Защитника Отечества (The Defenders of the Fatherland Day).

The 23rd of February is about commemorating the Russian military and civilian personnel and to honor the country’s veterans. Over the years it has become the unofficial Men’s Day, sort of the equivalent to Women’s Day. On this day, women often give presents and postcards to male relatives and congratulate male colleagues, whilst schoolboys may receive small presents from their female classmates.

Below you will learn more on what happens in Saint Petersburg in honor of this day.


  1. Hotel Moscow

At Hotel Moscow there is a special exhibition going on this weekend from 12:00 to 20:00. There will be military vehicles on display, and a field kitchen (open only on the 23rd from 12:00 to 14:00) where you will have the chance to try Russian field military food. Two military vehicles will be available for those who are interested in driving one, but you will have to go through a short training first (most likely available only in Russian).

In the restaurant area, you will see soldiers’ personal belongings, their summer and winter uniforms, and different weapon replicas like grenades, revolvers, guns, machine guns and even some German guns from World War II. Visitors can also check out the interactive target shooting area, and a workshop on assembling an automatic riffle will also take place.

To know more go to: http://www.hotel-moscow.ru/en/23-feb

  1. Военно-исторический Музей артиллерии, инженерных войск и войск связи (Museum of Artillery, Engineering and Communication Forces)

The museum displays a vast collection of arms and heavy artillery since the Middle Ages. It has an interesting outdoor exhibition with tanks, missile launchers and canons. It’s a great place to visit anytime but, in honor of this day, there is a special exhibition called Блокадный Ленинград – город оружейников (Leningrad under Siege – The City of Gunsmiths) dedicated to how weapons were manufactured in Leningrad while the city was under siege from September 1941 until January 1944.

This exhibition is open until the end of February.

In the same museum there is also an exhibition called Самураи. 47 ронинов. (Samurai. 47 Ronan). This is an interactive exhibition that will display Samurai weapons and armor. At 12:00 there will be a Jiu-Jitsu demonstration, at 13:00 there will be an Aikido demonstration followed by a master class, and at 15:00 there will be a demonstration on how to wear the Samurai armor. The martial arts demonstrations are only taking place this weekend in honor of this holiday.

To know more go to: http://www.artillery-museum.ru/

  1. Fireworks!

These will be launched near the Петропавловская крепость (Peter and Paul Fortress) on the 23rd of February. Some of the best places from where you can watch the firework show are from the Hermitage by the Neva river or from the Стрелка Васильевского острова (Arrow of Vasilievsky Island), but if you go to the Петропавловская крепость (Peter and Paul Fortress), you will also get an awesome view of it all.


I hope you will do something interesting this 3-day weekend. Yes, don’t forget that the school will not be open tomorrow (Monday, 23rd of February)!

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