Author(s): Olga Aleksandrovna Voronina
Subject(s): Gender Studies, Customs / Folklore, Recent History (1900 till today), Culture and social structure , Social Theory
Published by: Ивановский государственный университет
Keywords: gender; national holiday; symbolic politics; the Defender of the Fatherland Day; International Women’s Day; the invention of tradition; gender ideology;

Summary/Abstract: The author considers transformation of the meaning and symbolism of the two state Russian holidays celebrated on February 23 and March 8. Besides gender theory, the author draws from the ideas of M. Bakhtin about the feast as an integral part of the culture, P. Bourdieu about symbolic politics and E. Hobsbawm about the invention of a new (and acceptable to the authorities) traditions. The holiday on February 23 was established in the Soviet era as the Day of Red Army’s Victory over the troops of Germany (1918). Interesting in this case is not the holiday itself, but the fact that it is based on the political myth about the victory of the revolutionary army over the external enemy. As recent research has shown, in reality the Red Army had no victories to speak of at the time. The invention of the legend of the Red Army’s Victory and the tradition of celebrating this day belongs personally to Stalin. In 2002 in Post-Soviet Russia the State Duma renamed the holiday on February 23 into the Day of the Fatherland’s Defender. In the political discourse this holiday is associated with the recognition of the “Great Russian Victories” and the with the men’s masculine roles as a warrior-defender-winner. Historically, March 8 is associated with the famous German communist and feminist Clara Zetkin who proposed to establish the “International women’s day for the rights of women” (1910). In pre-revolutionary Russia, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1913, the next celebration of International Women’s Day was held on March 8, 1921 in memory of the women’s strike in Petrograd in 1917. After the 1917 revolution, the idea of an international women’s solidarity was eliminated thanks to the symbolic power politics. In modern Russia’s political and public discourse March 8 is considered “women’s holiday of spring and love”. Thus, this holiday has lost its original meaning of the struggle for gender equality and gained the opposite and very traditional value of a “feminine fest”. The author comes to the conclusion that these holidays are symbolic constructs with variable meanings. They are formed and supported by state institutions as they serve to provide suitable pictures of the past and present; they also serve to produce and reproduce traditional gender ideology and strengthen the dichotomy of gender roles. This is consistent with the declared policy of the authorities to return to traditional values.

  • Issue Year: 2017
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 3-16
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: Russian