Victory Day (День Победы)

Victory Day is celebrated on May 9th in Russia, not May 8th. The reason, they say, is simple – the news of the victory arrived late at night, and due to the time zone differences, most didn’t find out until the next day. This means that on both Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, people are celebrating the holiday.

A small group of mostly students and professors collected on Tuesday morning at 4:45 am to usher in the victory’s first sunlight. It had snowed a bit the night before, and the temperature was hovering just below freezing.

We walked to the Victory Park to recite poetry, sing songs, and lay carnations down. We all showed our patriotism with our winter-white Siberian skin, red noses, and blue lips! Ha. In any case, the procession was taken very seriously, and despite icy fingers, the boys kept strumming away endlessly on their guitars, and despite frozen cheeks, we all did our best to sing along.

The next day was the town-wide celebration: a parade and show in the center square and later a formal laying-of-flowers in the park. My friend Alexei invited me to join his co-workers in their section of the march, which was great.

Someone in the group had made a copy of the April 30th Victory Flag (“The attack flag of the 150th Order of Kutuzov” “штурмовой флаг 150-й ордена Кутузова”), which was very cool.

After we placed the flowers on the memorial, we sat down for a picnic of smoked fish, homemade bread, and anise-and-herb-based moonshine, fondly nicknamed, “The Little Green One.” Steady nips at this, appropriately disguised in a “Lipton Green Tea” bottle, made the day that much merrier and warmer!

Then came time for the obligatory “stand next to things/people and take pictures” segment.

Here is my contribution:

After an exhausting amount of photos and The Little Green One, we went and made pelmeny. Perfect conclusion.

The celebration was overall great – a both cheerful and proud atmosphere. Kids were excited to perform the various dances and songs they had prepared, adults were grateful for a day off work, and veterans shined with honor and achievement. It’s a very respectful holiday, and people, as far as I saw, really poured their hearts into it.

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