Today is Defenders of the Fatherland Day (День защитника Отечества - dyen' zasheetnika otaychestva), a public holiday here in Russia that marks the date in 1918 during the Russian Civil War when the first mass draft into the Red Army took place. It used to be called Red Army Day, and was celebrated in honour of anybody serving in the Army, but nowadays it is more colloquially known as Men's Day (День Мужчин - dyen' moozhchin) and is the male equivalent of the March 8th holiday that is coming up - International Women's Day. I guess the guys deserve their own day too...
Anyways, Valentine's Day isn't a very big deal here - more attention is paid to February 23rd and March 8th. I looooove Valentine's Day, whether I'm single or in a relationship, but even I have to admit that it was nice to get a break this year from the hit-you-over-the-head-with-it over-commercialization of V-Day. There were no cards, no candy hearts, no sappy Cupids, no garish pink-and-red decorations in the shops...when I mentioned Valentine's Day to my classes, the general reaction seemed to be that it was a Western holiday and that it should stay in the West.
Defenders of the Fatherland Day, however, seems to be an entirely different matter. In the shops, I saw several cards (most of them rather cheeky, featuring buxom cartoon women thanking soldiers for their sacrifices) and small gift bags featuring aftershave, cologne, and other "manly" necessities. And the entire country got the day off work!!
That was awesome - I've been feeling somewhat overwhelmed lately with all my classes, and I was just given a new class that starts next Tuesday night. So the chance to sleep in and spend the rest of the day with friends was very, very welcome!
I went bowling (uhhh, you don't need to know my score...I'm too modest to brag here anyways!) and then to a photo exhibit with Tatiana, Vlada, and Tatiana's new flatmate, Kolya, called "The Best of Russia:2010." It featured "the best" (I'm not sure how they were picked, but they all truly were incredible!) photographs of Russia throughout the year. The categories were Nature, Daily Life, People, Architecture, and Style. Unfortunately my camera's battery died about halfway through so I don't have that many pictures from the event. The photographs were all eye-catching and provocative in different ways - some were funny, some were full of pathos and tragedy, others were majestic and awe-inspiring.
Vlada, Tanya, and I next to a cute photograph
- the elderly woman
in the background is covering her husband's eyes!
As adorable as I thought this photo was, there's
still no way I'd be that cool about sharing my oatmeal with