D E F E N D E R O F T H E F A R T H E R L A N D D A Y
This special day was established in 1922 as “Day of Red Army” to commemorate the anniversary of establishing of Worker’s and Peasant’s Red Army in 1918. From 1917 until 1923 Russia was soaked in blood and devastated by the civil war that followed the socialist revolution of 1917. Bloody confrontation between the Red and the White armies came to an end in 1923 when Bolsheviks got most of former Russian Empire’s territories under their control. In 1946 the date was renamed Soviet Army and Navy day and kept this name until 1991, when it was given another name – “Defender of the Fatherland Day”. February 23 became a public holiday in 2002. Despite its patriotic meaning, first and foremost, February 23 is men’s day, almost an analogue of Woman’s day which is celebrated 2 weeks later. Men of all age and professions receive presents and greetings.
Soviet Army and Navy greetings cards were available in great abundance until the end of 1980s. These cards depicted Soviet military symbolic achievements and sent a strong patriotic message. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Defender of the Fatherland greeting cards became scarce and printed in a small number of copies.
I N T E R N A T I O N A L W O M A N’S D A Y
International Woman’s Day had a particular significance during the first two decades of the last century when the feminist movement was on the rise; however, as in many other countries its importance started to diminish with time. In the Russian Empire, the first celebration of Woman’s Day in 1913 was rather a tribute to the new Western trend. In 1921 International Woman’s day became a special day in a socialist Russia divided by the civil war; it was established to commemorate participation of female workers in the demonstrations which led to the fall of the monarchy in 1917. Final state recognition came to this date in 1966 when it eventually became a public holiday. Gradually, International Woman’s Day in USSR was losing the political and feminist meaning behind it, until it became a day of all women. Another name for March 8 is “Day of Spring and Beauty”. In present-day Russia, Woman’s day remains one of the most popular and broadly celebrated holidays of the year.
Nowadays, International Woman’s Day greeting cards are available in a great variety of shapes and designs, thought the distinguishing style of a Soviet greeting card became a thing of the past. One of the distinguishing features of Soviet cards was appealing to a woman as a part of society; they all carried some uniting message in them. Often, the main theme of a card was dedicated to moments of spring with melting snow, tulips and mimosas. Abstract artworks of Soviet International Woman’s Day greeting cards made them a universal gift to women of all age and occupation. Modern Russian cards appeal to a woman privately, almost intimately, depicting her personal belongings such as bags, mirrors or clothes, to reflect her lifestyle. Modern greeting cards depict woman as a glamorous femme fatale, proud of her femininity.
This section presents cards printed between 1952 and 2011, which reflect more than 60 years of celebration.
Look for it only in books, for it no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind” Prologue from “Gone with the Wind”
Greeting cards provide a window into our collective past; in this exhibition a set of greeting cards will take visitor on a historic tour of Russia which has faced many radical changes over the past decades: the Soviet red flag was replaced by the three-coloured Russian flag, International Labour day street meetings became a thing of the past, Revolution day is no longer marked red on Russian calendars, it is National Unity day that is celebrated instead. The country itself changed, and with it the need for celebrations changed – and so did greeting cards. Nowadays, greeting cards celebrating state holidays are no longer found in shops, in fact they are no longer in print. Just like anywhere else, in modern Russia holidays have lost their ideological significance and are seen instead as an opportunity to spend time with family and friends.
The exhibited Soviet cards are symbols of the past, recent yet so distant, messages of friendship from a country that disappeared from maps twenty-one years ago, soon after the fall of the Berlin wall. Addressed to many relatives, these cards became a real family treasure.
Traditions of New Year celebrations in Soviet Union changed with time. In the period between 1918-1935, 1st January was not considered important enough to be a state holiday; in fact it was an ordinary working day. Starting from 1936, New Year has become the most long-awaited and celebrated holiday of the year. New Year greeting cards started to appear in the 1950s, brining the joyful atmosphere associated with the holiday to every family. These cards were available in great variety, were truly on demand and found their way to each and everyone. Old New Year cards radiate the feel of sincere fervour, approaching adventures and winter magic. Often these cards would include elements which reflect major achievements of the Soviet state such as space missions and hosting Olympics games in Moscow.
In modern Russia, New Year traditionally remains the main winter holiday, unlike Western European countries where Christmas is the most popular holiday. New Year greeting cards did not lose their distinction, on the contrary, modern greeting cards can be found in an astounding diversity of designs and artworks. However, one must note that something has changed from the times of USSR: New Year greeting cards no longer depict national achievements or characters recognized by everybody.
This section presents cards printed between 1962 and 1987.