Sunday, May 12, 2013

День Победы: May 9th

On Victory Day here in Russia I ran into a group of French tourists on the metro. I was thrilled to momentarily return to my first language love, and helped them locate the next metro stop they wanted to see...people actually tour the metro here. And with good reason! But we'll file that topic away for another day. My friends expressed their surprise at the extent of the Victory Day celebration they were witnessing, despite having their own fête de la victoire on May 8th. They were not alone.

Victory here is a BIG deal! It starts off with a serious display of machinery at the Victory Parade. You can take a quick peek (or watch the entire thing!) to get a feel. In case my earlier posting on tanks left you wanting more, this is it!
Impressive, right?! I didn't brave any crowds to try and witness this one in person, but rather enjoyed some clips from the comfort of my own home...a precious morning off does not need to be rushed! Besides, I needed to save energy for the day's itinerary.

First up, a stop at Сад Эрмитаж. It's a lovely little park where you find another one of Moscow's opera theaters, Novaya Opera.  But there was no opera on tap for this girl today, location aside. This park tried to create some 1940's flair in modern Moscow with an old car display, a concert of war songs and dance, some youth dressed in military WWII costume, and plenty of Russian military men on hand.  

My favorite moment while here was this sweet couple that started to dance to the older tunes. To think of all this veteran witnessed and all the changes this couple has seen over the decades is unfathomable. But to see them caught up in sweet remembrance was beautiful.
Almost as beautiful as Nastya's picture as a little boy turned out. I'm only sorry I didn't work harder to squeeze my head through the child-sized hole provided.
Next up, was a quick photoshoot in the courtyard of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art...a courtyard shared with the Moscow cafe that offers my absolute favorite tea: ginger, mint and lemon.

 Even on a day off escaping this beautiful Bolshoi tends to be an impossibility. Especially on Victory Day, given that one of the city's long-standing traditions takes place here. Directly in front of the theater, veterans gather to greet crowds. In yet another beautiful Russian flower tradition, veterans and others who lived through the war are presented with flowers from anyone and everyone. Of all the day's events, seeing this tradition was one of the most touching. I don't know who these people are on every other day, but seeing them recognized in such a way at least one day of the year is truly beautiful.


Poetry performances were given by people of all ages. (Note: I LOVE that Russians memorize poetry!!! I have yet to meet a Russian who can't recite at least one!) We witnessed an 8-year-old's admirable performance. Russian is all the more impressive when I hear children speak it.
Last stop in the city is by far the most popular on the 9th...Поклонная Гора (Poklonnaya Hill) and Парк Победы (Victory Park). The crowds were out here in full force, reveling in the holiday sunshine. Unfortunately they had completely depleted the ice cream and water resources at ALL the vendors' stations we passed!


We passed on the evening salute, and instead ended the day with a sister slumber party and watched the Soviet wartime film, Отец Солдата. The story is that of an older Georgian father who's journey begins when he sets off to visit his injured son in a hospital. He eventually finds himself at the battlefront and, when he does finally find his son, the scene which unfolds is unforgettable. Rather than give away the entire plot, I'd encourage you to find this film and turn on some subtitles. While the version below likely won't do much for you, this movie for me was truly unforgettable. 
Sunshine, my sister, some interesting insight into Russia's experience and remembrance of WWII, and lots of victory made for a pretty fantastic holiday! 

A

5 comments:

  1. If you like Russian war movies, check "А зори здесь тихие..." and "Они сражались за Родину". These are the best to my mind. They tocuh my heart every time I watch them. I'm happy you had fun on Victory Day. Kisses from Tambov (just another small Russian town). I love your blog!!!

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    1. Thank you so much for the suggestions! Я их посмотрю! And I'm thoroughly enjoying the Russia small towns...maybe I'll add Tambov to my list of places to visit!

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  2. You both look radiant and very happy. Victory Day looks really festive. Memorizing poetry? Interesting and fascinating.

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  3. The thing that I got most out of this post was beat the crowds to the ice cream.

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  4. The shot of the old couple dancing is a very sweet one. The stories they have must be incredible.

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