Ukrainians traditionally celebrate Defender's Day on October 14 in honor of those who defend the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the country. This year, for the first time, the holiday will be called the Day of Defenders and Defenders - to show that Ukraine was also defended by women and to get rid of the stereotype of "boys' day" with gifts in the form of socks and shaving foam.
We will tell you about the history and significance of the holiday, how many days Ukrainians will rest on public holidays, as well as the plan of events on October 14 in Kyiv.
The history of the holiday
In 2014, the fifth president, Petro Poroshenko, established October 14 as Defender of Ukraine Day. In parallel, the celebration of Defender of the Fatherland Day was canceled (until 2014 in Ukraine, as in a number of other countries of the former Soviet Union, the Day of Defender of the Fatherland was celebrated on February 23. After the outbreak of hostilities in Donbas and the annexation of Crimea, it became impractical to honor the defenders simultaneously with the aggressor state).
In his speech during the military parade in Kyiv on August 24, 2014, Poroshenko said:
"In the chronicle of the Ukrainian army, rich in exploits, there are many battles and dates worthy of becoming the Defender of the Fatherland Day. I underline that Ukraine will never again celebrate this holiday according to the military-historical calendar of the neighboring country. We will respect the defenders of our homeland, not someone else's."
Why October 14? The date was chosen because of the historical tradition of honoring the Ukrainian Cossacks on the Intercession of the Theotokos. The Cossacks believed that they were protected by the Intercession, and the Most Holy Theotokos was considered their patroness and intercessor. Before the battles, the Cossacks served prayers to the Mother of God, and the churches on the Sich were often called Pokrovska. Our ancestors celebrated the Day of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos with special solemnity, fighting competitions, and songs.
On July 14, 2021, the Verkhovna Rada renamed Defender's Day into the Day of Defenders and Defenders. The explanatory note to the bill indicates that the previous name of the holiday did not fully convey its essence and content, because Ukraine was also defended by women. Thus, compared to 2014, the number of women in the army has doubled. Now in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, there are 31,757 women, representing 15.6% of the total number of military personnel.
On August 3, 2021, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky approved the renaming and signed the law.
Thus, the Day of the Defender and Defendersses is about men and women soldiers, doctors who save the soldiers, activists, law enforcement officers, volunteers, and all those who devote their lives to protecting the state.
For those who are used to perceive Defender's Day as a men's version of March 8, there are other alternatives: International Men's Day on November 19 (the purpose of the holiday is to celebrate the achievements and contributions of men in various fields, as well as to draw attention to the problem of discrimination against men) or Father's Day on the third Sunday of June.
How many holidays will be there?
Since 2015, this day is not working. Since October 14 falls on Thursday, October 14, 15, 16, and 17 will be days off for Ukrainians. In addition, on October 13, the working day was reduced by an hour.
How will the Day of Defenders and Defendersses be celebrated – 2021
Memorial events, thematic exhibitions, art actions will be held in Kyiv on October 14, according to the Kyiv City State Administration. Due to this, a number of streets will be closed.
- The ceremony of laying flowers will take place at the memorial cross on the Alley of Heavenly Hundred Heroes and the memorial complex to the Heroes of Kyiv who died for independence.
- An art event will take place at the Spivoche Pole (Song Festival Grounds).
- Documentary films will be shown in the Kyyivkinofilm network of cinemas.
- From October 11 to October 24, the Museum "Kyiv Fortress" will host an exhibition from the funds of the museum "Cossack glory is immortal".
- From October 11 to October 15, an exhibition of archival documents is being held in the reading room of the State Archives of Kyiv.
- From October 13 to October 17 - a demonstration of modern weapons and equipment of the security and defense forces at Mykhailivska Square and Volodymyrsky Passage.
Besides, on October 14, a bike ride and several marches will take place:
- from 07:00 to 22:00 an exhibition "On the line of fire" from the Charity Foundation "Army SOS" will be held at Mykhailivska Square;
- from 09:00 to 13:00 - bike ride to the Day of the Defender of Ukraine. Route: Mykhailivska Square – Volodymyrska Street – Khreshchatyk Street – Hrushevskoho Street – Parkova Road – Lavrska Street - The Ukrainian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War;
- from 11:30 to 17:00 - "Right Sector" march on the occasion of the Intercession of the Theotokos in memory of the heroes of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army;
- from 13:00 to 21:00 a festive event will take place on Andriyivskyy Descent;
- from 13:00 to 15:00, the All-Ukrainian Prayer Maidan will take place on Sofiyskaya Square;
- from 16:00 to 18:00 - March for the Day of Defenders of Ukraine for 10,000 people (organizer - "Movement of Veterans of Ukraine"). Route: Taras Shevchenko Park - Taras Shevchenko Boulevard - Khreschatyk - Independence Square.