The first official Victory Day Celebration took place on May 9th, 1946 to commemorate Nazi Germany’s capitulation to the Soviet Union in the Second World War (in Russia and in some post-Soviet states also known as the Great Patriotic War). Though the official inauguration happened in 1945 (which means it has been celebrated since 1946), the holiday became a non-labor day only in 1965 and only in some of the countries of the USSR.
Victory Day is by far one of the biggest Russian holidays. It commemorates those who died in World War Two and pays tribute to survivors and veterans. A Victory Day tradition is to give flowers, usually red carnations, to veterans and to lay wreaths at the war memorial sites. Neighborhood schools may host a program prepared by the students, featuring wartime songs and poetry. A huge military parade, hosted by the President of the Russian Federation, is annually organized in Moscow on Red Square. At night the day is commemorated with a huge fireworks display. Similar events are organized in all major Russian cities as well as in cities in some other post-Soviet states.