5 Most Important Facts about Defender of the Fatherland Day

5 Most Important Facts about Defender of the Fatherland Day
24 February 2017

Have you ever heard about Defender of the Fatherland Day? Or as it is called in Russian День защитника Отечества (Den’ zaschtschitnika Otschestva)? If not- Don’t worry. I have gathered the most important information for you in the list below. Do not miss this chance to expand your knowledge of Russian culture and history!

What it is

Defender of the Fatherland Day is a public holiday, which is celebrated in Russia annually on February 23rd. This means that most public and private institutions will be closed that day. Despite all this, since we are talking about Russia, supermarkets, clothing stores and restaurants will be open as usual.

Historical Origin

You might want to call Defender of the Fatherland Day a distinctly Russian invention, since it was first celebrated to mark the date of the formation of the Red Army in 1918. In the beginning the holiday was known as Red Army Day, then Soviet Army Day and in 2002 it was renamed Defender of the Fatherland Day.

Why it is celebrated

The Defender of the Fatherland day was officially introduced as a public holiday in 2002. Its objective is to honor all veterans and men and women currently serving the Russian army.

Unofficial Purpose: Celebrating Men

Despite its official objective of paying a tribute to people who are currently or were serving in the army, Defender of the Fatherland Day has acquired a second meaning. It has turned into the celebration of all men. Men’s Day or День Мужчин (Den’ Muzhchin) shall constitute a counterpart to Women’s Day, which is celebrated all over the world on March 8th.

Traditions: How it is celebrated

The official holiday is celebrated with military parades, processions and events in honor of the veterans and soldiers. For the unofficial Men’s Day women traditionally give small presents, like socks or shaving cream, to their male beloved ones. What might come as a surprise to you is that it is not only common for women to give presents to their father or boyfriend/ fiancé/ husband, but colleagues or brothers might also receive a little something.


Congratulations! You have officially updated your knowledge of Russian culture.


This blog was brought to you by Ayla, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz.

Posted by Ayla Opatz

Hi, my name is Ayla. I am currently studying Russian and completing an internship at Liden and Denz Saint Petersburg. I am looking forward to my time in Russia and want to share my experiences with you via the Liden and Denz blog and social media websites. So stay tuned for more posts!

2 responses to “5 Most Important Facts about Defender of the Fatherland Day”

  1. Nicholas S says:

    Hi, thanks for teaching me about this. But I did some research, and I’ve never found Russia to be called the fatherland, only the motherland. So why is it defenders of the “fatherland” day?

  2. Elena says:

    Hi, Nicholas!
    Thanks for your interest in Russian culture and language. There are also two words used for calling our country: “Otechestvo” – Fatherland (derived from the word “Otets (father)) and “Rodina” – Motherland (homeland).

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