Ukraine celebrates Holy Protection of Mother of God, the Day of Defender of Ukraine, Day of the Ukrainian Cossacks and the anniversary of Ukrainian Insurgent Army on October 14. The Feast of the Holy Protectress is the first of the four important memorable events in the history of the country. All four feasts are closely connected to each other.
The Holy Protection
The Christians of the byzantine rite (Orthodox Christians and Greek-Catholics) celebrate the Feast of the Holy Protection or the Holy Protection of Mother of God on October 14.
According to the legend, on this day the army of Rus' people headed by Askold besieged Constantinople. The residents of the city started to pray to the Holy Mother asking for salvation. And the Holy Mother appeared before people and covered them with her cloth (Pokrova) and the enemy could not see these people anymore.
Another version says that it was the vision of Andrew of Constantinople during the siege of Constantinople by the Hagarenes’ army.
The Holy Mother appeared before people in the shrine and took them under her protection – the veil. After that, the enemy retreated.
By the start of October, all the major farmer works are over and it is the best time for weddings and parties.
It is said that veil “covers the earth with either leaves or snow.”
On this day, the believers pray to the Holy Mother for health, protection and help.
It is common to help the poor, orphans, and funk houses with burning twigs of apple or cherry tree. It is believed to bring luck and prosperity.
Since 1999, the Day of Ukrainian Cossacks is also marked on this day.
Day of Ukrainian Cossacks
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko made October 14 with the decree and canceled Soviet celebration on February 23 (the Defender of the Fatherland Day).
This day was defined “considering historical meaning and achievements of Cossacks in establishing of Ukrainian statehood and essential contribution in the modern process of state-building.”
The celebration of the Day of Ukrainian Cossacks coincides with the holiday of Pokrova. For centuries, the Mother of God was considered the protector of all Ukrainian Cossacks. And Zaporozhian Sich Cossacks built a church in honor of the Pokrova of Virgin Mary with her icon. By the way, on this very day, the Cossacks gathered the Great Council on which they chose hetmans and decided further military plans.
It is interesting that the Cossacks deeply and sincerely revered the Intercession of the Mother of God, believed in its power and solemnly celebrated it and because of that another name of the feast appeared – Cossack’s Pokrova.
There is probably no one in Ukraine who would not know about the Cossacks. There are plenty of books, films and stories about them. Even the state anthem mentions them. The image of a brave young man who protects the dignity and freedom of our people has been engraved in the memory of generations.
The uniqueness of our history is that Cossack organization embodies the dedication of our ancestors to freedom.
Numerous attacks by Tatars and Turkish on Ukraine forced Ukrainians to defend the territories. The Cossacks became a force that defended not only Ukraine but also Poland, Moldova, Hungary and Austria from the invaders.
As we know, the first powerful rebirth of Ukraine’s statehood fell on the Cossack era. The second attempt to win the independence by the Ukrainian people happened in the difficult 1917-1920 years.
The third one - already in our time - during the collapse of the Soviet empire, when the interest in the Ukrainian history and genetic memory rose.
The fourth wave is probably, nowadays. After all, since October 14, 2015 is a public holiday and a non-working day – it is also the Day of Defender of Ukraine.
Day of Defender of Ukraine
Since 2014, President’s decree set the Day of the Defender of Ukraine on the day of Pokrova.
A year later, on February 21, 2015, Poroshenko made the Day of Defender of Ukraine a state holiday.
The Defender's Day of Ukraine replaced the Soviet celebration on February 23 (the Defender of the Fatherland Day).
"On October 14, the Pokrova of the Holy Mother was a festive day for the defenders of the Fatherland since the Cossack times, so, last year, deliberately striking out artificially brought to us holiday of the Russian occupation army from the Ukrainian calendar, I, naturally, choose October 14 " Petro Poroshenko said.
The holiday was introduced "to honor the courage and heroism of the defenders of independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, military traditions and victories of the Ukrainian people."
Anniversary of creation of Ukrainian Insurgent Army
October 14 is also a day with many torchlight marches in a number of Ukrainian cities. This is how Ukrainians mark the day of creation of Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).
The tradition to celebrate this anniversary was introduced by Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko in 2005.
Since 2015, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army soldiers have gained the status of fighters for Ukraine’s independence in the 20th century.