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Detachment of the Pskov Red Guards. 1918 year. Main Archive of Moscow

The holiday received its current name only in 1995.

On February 23, our country celebrates Defender of the Fatherland Day. The Main Archive tells how the holiday arose and changed, as well as what names it used to wear.

For the first time the date of February 23 became a holiday in 1919. Then it was called the Day of the Red Gift and was timed to the anniversary of the battles of the first Red Army units with German troops near Pskov and Narva. In general, the history of the holiday dates back to the day of the creation of the Workers ‘and Peasants’ Red Army – January 28, 1918. On that day, the Council of People’s Commissars issued a corresponding decree.

How Red Gift Day was celebrated

February 23, 1919 in Moscow was held with music and performances. Actors of the theatrical and musical section of the Moscow City Council performed before the audience. The performances could be seen in theaters.

In 1920 and 1921, February 23 was not celebrated. Only in 1922, the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee adopted a resolution on the fourth anniversary of the Workers ‘and Peasants’ Red Army.

In the same year, a new official name was assigned to the holiday – the Day of the Red Army and the Navy.

Five, 10 and 20 years of the Red Army

In 1923, the USSR celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Red Army. They decided to celebrate this date solemnly. On February 23, a special meeting of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee was held at the Bolshoi Theater. Soon, ceremonial meetings became a tradition. For example, on February 23, 1924, such an event took place at the House of Unions, and in the next three years it was again held at the Bolshoi Theater. Festive celebrations were organized in military units, enterprises, universities and schools.

In 1928, the USSR celebrated 10 years of the Red Army. The opening of the Central House of the Red Army and the museum of the same name was timed to this date. On February 24, in the building of the Central Telegraph on Tverskaya Street, a thematic exhibition of paintings by members of the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia was opened.

In the 1930s, on the Day of the Red Army and the Navy, physical education competitions were held for schoolchildren. Children organized ski trips, one-day paramilitary trips, skated on skating rinks and performed at stadiums, marched in formation with flags to marching songs.

On January 24, 1938, to the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Red Army, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR established the first Soviet medal “XX Years of the Workers ‘and Peasants’ Red Army”. It was awarded to serving military personnel, as well as participants in the Civil War.

War time

The holiday in honor of the army became especially relevant during the Great Patriotic War. In those years, thematic exhibitions were opened in the capital dedicated to the exploits of soldiers who fought against the Nazis.

In 1942, the exhibition “The Heroic Path of the Red Army” was opened at the Museum of the Revolution. In 1943, the exhibition “The Red Army in the Struggle Against the German Fascist Invaders” was located in the Central House of the Red Army. In the same place in 1944-1945 there were exhibitions of works of the Studio of military artists named after M. B. Grekov.

After the war, February 23 was celebrated with even greater solemnity.

In 1946, the holiday received a new name – Day of the Soviet Army and Navy. Each year, ceremonial meetings were held with the participation of the country’s leadership, as well as many events at the district and city levels.

New story

The current name – Defender of the Fatherland Day – appeared in the holiday in 1995, since 2002 this day has become a day off.

Now on February 23, a solemn ceremony is held at the walls of the Kremlin, wreaths are laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. City parks host theme festivals, contests, competitions, military bands play, and fireworks are launched in the evening.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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