Forget about the USSR! What holidays Ukrainians celebrate on May 8 and 9

Yulia LoseynkoLife
Ukrainians no longer like May 9

Next week, the world will celebrate the 78th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. In Ukraine, this holiday has undergone many changes in recent years, both in terms of dates and attitudes.

OBOZREVATEL explains what and how the holiday is celebrated in our country. And whether there will be additional days off on these days.

Will May 9 be a day off?

As of today, martial law is still in effect in Ukraine until May 20, and it is expected to be extended for another 90 days. This means that all additional days off at the state level have been cancelled. Therefore, May 9 this year will be a working day.

As for May 8, this memorable date has not been considered a day off until now. So on Monday, Ukrainians will also go to work.

However, there may be exceptions to this rule. The law provides that private employers may decide on additional days off at their discretion.

What is celebrated on May 8 and 9

All over the world, May 8 is considered the day of victory over Nazism. It was on this day in the Berlin suburb of Karlshorst that representatives of Hitler's command, led by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, signed the act of unconditional surrender of Germany. It came into force at 23:01 European time. At that moment, it was already May 9 throughout the Soviet Union, so this date was recognised as a holiday.

After the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine continued to celebrate Victory Day on May 9. However, in 2015, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed a law on perpetuating the victory over Nazism in the Second World War of 1939-1945. This document, among other things, renamed the date to the day of the victory over Nazism in World War II, shifting the focus from the confrontation between the Soviet Union and Germany to the entire war. Ukrainians are now encouraged to use the term "World War II" instead of "Great Patriotic War".

The law also established another holiday, the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation. It "commemorates the feat of the Ukrainian people, their outstanding contribution to the victory of the Anti-Hitler Coalition in World War II and expresses respect for all fighters against Nazism".

In 2018, the Institute of National Remembrance came up with an initiative to abandon the May 9 holiday and make May 8 the same day. However, this decision has not yet been made and is unlikely to move forward until the end of the full-scale war.

How Ukrainians feel about celebrating May 8 and 9

According to a new survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, the attitude of Ukrainians towards the May 8 and 9 holidays has changed dramatically in recent years. While in 2010, 58% of our country's citizens considered the Victory Day inherited from the USSR to be one of the most important holidays, in 2021, only 30% shared this opinion. And after the outbreak of a full-scale war, only 13% of them did. Sociologists suggest that this is due to the fact that "Victory Day is very actively celebrated in Russia as a militaristic, aggressive holiday."

Thus, the Soviet Victory Day has become one of the least popular public holidays in Ukraine. Only Labour Day on May 1 is less popular, with only 5% of citizens enjoying it.

Earlier, OBOZREVATEL told what weekends will be in Ukraine in May 2023.

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