День Победы (Victory Day) is праздник победы советского народа над фашизмом(a celebration of the victory of the Soviet people over fascism). It is one of the most important holidays in Russia and чествует ветеранов (honors veterans) of Великая ОтечественнаяВойна (the Great Patriotic War – the name World War II is referred to in Russia).
День Победы в Европе (Victory Day in Europe; where it is often known as “V-E Day”) празднуется (is celebrated) on May 8 or 7th. This date marks the surrender at Reims on May 7 (or its delivery and announcement on May 8th), which ended the war in Western Europe.
День Победы в России (Victory Day in Russia) is celebrated on May 9th. Stalin had a separate капитуляцияподписана (surrender signed) in Berlin on May 9. Stalin wanted a surrender to be delivered to Soviet Forces, since Soviets contributed the most support to разгром нацистов(defeating the Nazis), and he believed it should be signed in Berlin, центр нацисткой агрессии (the center of Nazi aggression).
America doesn’t really have a major holiday that directly corresponds to Victory Day. Memorial day is also celebrated in May (on the last Monday), but that чествует погибшихсолдат всех войн (honors all fallen soldiers for all wars) and was originally started to honor those dead from Гражданская Война в США (the American Civil War), which was самая кровопролитная (the bloodiest war) ever fought on American soil.
WWII was the bloodiest war ever fought на российской земле (on Russian soil). Russia потеряла больше людей, чем любая другая страна (lost more people than any other country) – some 21-28 million soldiers and civilians.
One of самые сильные стороны (the biggest strengths) of the Soviet army was its seemingly endless снабжениелюдскими ресурсами (supply of manpower). Other nations had более развитые военные технологии (more advanced war technologies): танки (tanks), современноевооружение (advanced weaponry), тактика боя (battle tactics). However, the Soviet Army didn’t ever seem to run out of soldiers to resist the advancing enemy armies it faced.
Советская Армия (the Soviet Army) fought Nazi Germany on the Восточный фронт(Eastern Front), while other European countries and the US fought in the West. In the Soviet era, the role of the Western allies was sometimes diminished, (as was the role of the Soviets in Western histories). However, the supplies of military equipment from the USA greatly contributed to the success of the Soviet Army in the critical periods such as битва под Москвой (battle of Moscow) in 1941. Likewise, had not the Soviets tirelessly worn down the Nazi army with incredibly bloody battles such as Сталинградская битва (The Battle of Stalingrad), it’s likely that the Nazis could have conquered and held Western Europe.
May 9 is celebrated all over Russia, the former USSR, and Eastern Europe. There are парады военнослужащих(parades of servicemen) where ветераны приглашаются(veterans are invited). In earlier years, veterans participated in parades. However, currently most of the veterans are about 90 years old or older, and so they just sit and watch parades. Самыйизвестный (the most famous) parade происходит (occurs) in Moscow on Red Square, but cities all over the country have their own parades also. There areконцерты и представления(concerts and performances); церемонии (processions) such as возложение цветов (laying flowers) at могила неизвестного солдата (the grave of the unknown soldier) in Moscow and at war memorials throughout the country.
In Moscow, there is a tradition that on May 9 veterans gather in front of the Bolshoi Theater. This started as a way to hold a sort of reunion, but it is now also a tradition that many younger Russians participate in, arriving to the area to greet the veterans come, give them flowers and благодарить (thank) them for their service.
In recent years, many Russians have started wearing the black and orange stripped ribbons that have formerly been associated with May 9 year-round as a general sign of patriotism. The ribbon is called Георгиевская лента (The Ribbon of Saint George). The ribbon colors and pattern were part of many high военные награды (military decorations) awarded by Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union and in many awards granted by the current Russian Federation. These awards include Орден Святого Георгия (Order of Saint George) and the Soviet Орден Славы (Order of Glory). The ribbons have been displayed on May 9th as знакпамяти и уважения к подвигу солдат в годы Великой Отечественной Войны (a sign of remembrance and respect to the heroic deeds of soldiers in the years of the Great Patriotic War).
The ribbons have been раздаваться (distributed) in Moscow since 2006 via an initiative of RIA-Novosti (a state-run news agency) and Студенческая община (The Student Society; a state-supported NGO). The ribbons are often worn on a jacket lapel, tied to a backpack, or to some part of an automobile (the radio antenna, rearview mirror, or door handle being most common). The ribbons were once somewhat controversial in Russia as many, particularly older Russians, considered handing out the ribbon to everyone a degradation of the honor signified by the decoration in the state awards. Some also complained about it being tied to cars where it often became dirty and ratty. However, since Russia incorporated Crimea, the ribbons have become an accepted and generally unquestioned display of patriotism in Russia.