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Heroes of the Fatherland Day

9 December 2007

On February 16, 2007 the deputies of the Russian Duma made changes to the Federal law “On the days of martial glory and memorable dates of Russia”. According to these changes the Day of December 9 was declared the Heroes of the Fatherland Day. On this day are celebrated the Heroes of the Soviet Union, the Heroes of the Russian Federation, the holders of the Saint George Order and the Order of Glory.

The date of the holiday is timed for the day of a Christian saint, a great martyr Saint George the Triumphant who obtained his nickname for courage and spiritual victory over tormentors who had not succeeded to make him refuse the Christianity and also for his miraculous aide to people in danger. The cult of Saint George the Triumphant passed from Byzantine Empire to Russia in 10-11th centuries.

Initially the Saint George was known as the patron of counts especially during their war marches. On the icons he was portrayed as a standing warrior with a spear and a shield or a sword and a spear. Gradually the standing warrior was being replaced by a horseman struggling with a serpent. A legend “A miracle of George and a serpent” was dedicated to him.  It told about the Saint George who saved a tsar’s daughter from a terrible serpent-ogre suppressing him with a cross and a prayer and then piercing him with a spear.

Before the October revolution there was a tradition to celebrate all the holders of St. George Order on this day, from such prominent persons as A.V. Suvorov, G.A. Potemkin, M.I. Kutuzov to ordinary soldiers, sailors and Cossacks awarded with St. George crosses and medals. For the last time the holiday of St. George holders’ was celebrated in the imperial Russia on November 26 (December 9), 1916. After the October revolution of 1917 the Order and the holiday itself were abolished.

August 8, 2000 the Order of Saint George was restored as the highest military award in Russia, and in 2007 was also revived the holiday - Day of the Heroes of the Fatherland, which was first celebrated in Russia December 9, 2007.

Lit.: О внесении изменения в статью 1-1 Федерального закона «О днях воинской славы и памятных датах России» // Гарант. 2013; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://base.garant.ru/190715/.