The Defender of Ukraine Day which is to be celebrated tomorrow, October 14, might be one of the main signs of mental and social transformations in Ukraine reflected in an official occasion.
Currently, this date presents four Ukrainian holy days tied closely in a historical view. Pokrova or the Intercession of the Theotokos is a traditional religious holiday which was observed by Ukrainian Cossacks in the 17th and 18th centuries. Therefore introducing the Day of Cossacks on Pokrova in 1999 was more than sensible. Also, the Ukrainian National organizations have marked the Ukrainian Insurgent Army being founded this day for over half a century.
The decision to honor the defenders of Ukraine on October 14 was made in 2014 at the height of Russian-Ukrainian war when news came daily about killed Ukrainian soldiers and military volunteers. This way, the traditional unofficial holiday got new content and value. And what is more important, the day honoring Ukrainian soldiers replaced the tradition of celebrating Soviet Army Day on February 23, the Red Army foundation fest.
February 23 backward tradition kept being observed for 24 years since Ukraine proclaimed its independence, showing the persistence of the Soviet past. It became particularly outrageous and unacceptable as it was “inherited” by the Russian army, which occupied the Crimea and part of Donbas.
As a state holiday, the Defender of Ukraine Day is only celebrated for the fourth time, and for the third year, this is a day off. However, the ATO soldiers, volunteers, and active patriotic people observe it with growing enthusiasm each following year.
This year celebrations in Kharkiv are held by both governmental and public organizations. Since 10 a.m. officials and civic activists are laying flowers to the memorial stone on the Maidan of the Defenders of Ukraine honoring the soldiers who were killed in the Russian-Ukrainian war. After that, the opening ceremony of the Alley of Glory will take place at cemetery 18 where lay the Kharkiv combatants passed away since 2014.
In the afternoon a concert in Kharkiv Opera House will be held for the warriors who are fighting for Ukraine today. Also, Kharkiv center of Ukrainian Culture is celebrating October 14 as the Cossack’s Day with dances, quests, music and treating the participants. A number of other events are taking place all over the city — in schools, colleges, and Universities.
Thus the major heroes of the day are Ukrainian soldiers and officers who are defending the belligerent country. It was the war in the east of Ukraine which made October 14 significant and special for the people.
Text: Olena Sokolynska
Photo: Leonid Logvinenko