August 22nd is National Flag Day in Russia, a day when Russians pay tribute to the nation's traditional banner and celebrate the demise of the flag of the Soviet Union.
Officials banned the traditional red, white, and blue flag after the revolution of 1917 and citizens were forbidden to hoist it until after the August Coup of 1991, a day when Soviet officials tried (and failed) to take control of the country from Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev. This unsuccessful attempt led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the restoration of the traditional flag. Russians began officially celebrating National Flag Day in 1994 and though it isn’t a bank holiday, August 22 is still a special day to many Russian men and women. The Voice of Russia reports that the flag inspires feelings of pride and admiration in over half of the nation’s citizens.
Though no one is sure about the origin and meaning of the flag’s colors and stripes, various theories abound. Some say the colors came from the coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, while others believe they represent the Russian social system under the monarchy, with white representing God, blue representing the Tsar, and red representing peasants. Alexei Makarkin, the first deputy president of the Moscow-based Center for Political Technologies, believes the tri-color flag is associated with the reign of Peter I.
"I think this part of our history is closely connected with Peter the Great, under whom these colors came to Russia to assume an official character,” Makarkin told The Voice of Russia. “The flag is linked to large-scale reforms and changes that made Russia one of the leading European countries. It became deeply seated as early as during the next historical period, with people beginning to perceive it as the national flag accompanying various events and holidays. It is curious that even in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the people of Russia used these three colors to decorate premises hosting holidays and folk festivals themselves, without orders from above.”
Whatever the meaning, the traditional flag is an important symbol to many Russian women so be sure to wish your special lady a happy National Flag Day~