9th of May in Moscow from a foreigner point of view

As I planned a trip to Moscow by the beginning of May 2015, I realized that I could attend there the Great Celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II. This sounded like a wonderful experience and I was really excited about it. 

Photo: Ria.ru 

I then gathered some information about this event, to discover some unusual facts about this celebration. First, so far I can remember I always celebrated this day on the 8th of May, not on the 9th. Then this day is celebrated as ‘Victory Day’ and not as ‘The Armistice’. Last, this is not about World War II but a celebration about ‘The Great Patriotic War’. Once cleared what we can consider as a different terminology, I was thinking as this experience as a good way to see the celebrations I already know, but in a different country.
I arrived in Moscow Sheremetievo early morning on the 7th seeing, right after the custom office desk, not the usual commercials about cars phone or any fancy products, but huge posters everywhere claiming ‘побюеда 70 лет’ aside some ‘orange and black ribbons’. This was for me the first sign that something big was planned, as it was said to be everywhere on TV, on the Internet and on Social Medias.

Then, continuing on my vacations and planning to do the whole tourist stuff, i got to hang around the city, i got struck by the overwhelming presence of all these Posters decorating the city’s walls and buildings, and of all these St George's Ribbons pinned to most of the Muscovites jackets and wrapped on their bags and cars.
It is definitely a very popular day that is coming and everyone want to be part of it.
All the History of this Great Patriotic War is literally depicted everywhere around the city. In each and every walking street, park, promenade, banners are tracing the involvement of the Russian People during this terrible war, whether they were soldiers or civilians, adults or children, men or women. Pictures and explanations describing what it was to be Russian during the war, a real History course about this specific period 1941-1945. In front of all these banners, it’s always a crowd of people, not only reading one out of ten, but going through all of them.
Aside from these facts reminded to the nowadays Russian people, a lot of very touching drawings from kids giving us their vision, their understanding of what was this war. Any kind of drawings, some celebrating Victory showing fireworks, some remembering fights and deaths showing tanks and soldiers, some showing sadness with tears and flowers.


On the 9th, I wanted to attend the military parade  on the Red Square until I realized I wasn’t an official and had to watch it like everybody will do, on TV.
Instead, I, as everybody, got up early morning, and decided to be part of it. I joined the streets which were already literally packed with people gathered around huge city screens and on specific places in town, waiting for the official celebration to begin.
At this precise moment I realized that the worldly expected celebration was not the one I was thinking about.
Of course you have the ‘biggest parade since the fall of the USSR’ taking place on the Red Square, with all its officials, diplomats, veterans… the very solemn speech of President Putin, the shiny uniforms and military showdown. But the most to get out of this 9th of May 2015, is happening in the streets.
During the day flags floating everywhere along with the St George's Ribbons, kids wearing uniforms, people clapping and yelling around to cheer up and congratulate everyone, families gathered altogether holding portraits of their grandparents or great grandparents dead during the war.
After a quick stop by a restaurant to start watching the celebrations on the Red Square and the President Putin speech, (i wanted at least to see, without understanding, him delivering his speech, knowing the international situation) and the beginning of the official parade, I hardly manage to make my way through the crowded streets around белорусская train station to watch the ‘Plane Parade’.
All the Russian people were already there, the lucky ones close enough to see the screens, all the others, of whom i was part of, waiting looking up the sky for it to start. A united crowd shivering at each huge motor sound thinking it was the actual beginning of the ‘operations’.
When finally the first helicopters appeared in the sky, a fantastic wave hit all of us in a big roar, kids arose from the ground to their father’s shoulders fingers pointing at the sky. Adults and kids were naming any kind of different aircrafts passing above us, it was applauding and shouting their pride at them, until the last planes pass by delivering over Moscow’s sky , in the most boiling clamor, the three White Blue Red colors of the Russian Flag.

The 9th of May. The view from the roof of the TimeOut Bar  

At night again these congratulations while watching the many fireworks lighting up every corner of the city, it was everywhere flashing around. The same crowd strategically located in the parks, around Moscow State University, on the roof tops of the city’s tallest buildings, once again all together, united, not only to watch a wonderful show but to be part of it, to remember, to share this very unique time when everyone take a few moments in between each happy and colorful ‘victory’ explosion to think back, and i couldn’t help myself thinking back that about 70 years ago, the explosions were dramatically not the same, but led the World to be free from barbarism, and to think about these millions of people, about their sacrifice, i had all these images from the banners i’ve passing by in town coming up to my mind, and try from my very different point of view, to think about this jubilatory proud feeling that overwhelmed the people of that time, as it is Now overwhelming all the Russian around, including me.
Being there, carrying my background of 8th of May celebration… i could really feel what this Victory Day is all about for the Russian people, what this terrible war was all about for the Russian people. The world is moving on and so many things happened during these 70 years,  after which you can still feel that everyone around, young or older, sadly but proudly remember the shocking sacrifice and deprivations of these people during the Great Patriotic War, as a national heritage inherent to Russian people which is giving an impression of glorious victory which is still shining in people’s mind and keeping them united as One People.

Geoffroy Petit, 32, consultant (France)  

The hotels Beijing lobby 


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