Victory Day or День Победы is a very important day in Russia and has been for a very long time, as it marks the day that Nazi Germany capitulated to the Soviet Union in the Second World War, known as the Great Patriotic War in the Soviet Union.
Following the signing of the surrender document just after midnight (Moscow Time) on the 9th of May 1945 in Berlin, the Soviet government announced the victory throughout the fifteen republics of the Soviet Union.
During the Soviet Union era, Victory Day was not celebrated in a huge fashion because the mass demonstrations did not fit in with the way in which the country was run. When Vladimir Putin came to power, he began to promote the prestige of the governing regime and history, national holidays and commemorations all became a source of national pride. Since then, Victory Day has become a joyous celebration in which popular culture plays a great role. It is Russia’s second most popular holiday after New Year!
There are plenty of events scheduled across Russia, with the huge parade on the Red Square in Moscow and a march down Nevsky Prospect in St Petersburg.
The day commemorates the millions of people who lost their lives in WWII, and honours the bravery of Russian soldiers and Russian people on the whole whose heroism saved the country from Nazi Germany. Victory Day is a sacred holiday for Russians, who often say that there is not a single family in the country who did not lose someone in the war.
You may have seen the St George’s ribbon around town, the orange and black striped ribbon, that is one of the most recognised and respected symbols of military valour in modern Russia. It is widely associated with the commemoration of World War II and especially with the military units who were awarded the Guard Battle Honours during the conflict.
The Georgian ribbon emerged as the highest military decoration of Imperial Russia and was re-established in 1998 by Boris Yeltsin.