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(Prazdnik Pobedy), a holiday celebrated by all the peoples of the USSR. It is held every year on May 9 to mark the Soviet people’s victory over fascist Germany in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45.
Victory Day was established by a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on May 8, 1945. A decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on Apr. 26, 1965, proclaimed it an official holiday. On Victory Day the minister of defense of the USSR issues the traditional proclamation, and artillery salutes are fired in the capital of the USSR— the hero-city Moscow—and the capitals of the Union republics, the hero-cities, the hero-fortress of Brest, and the cities of Murmansk, Novosibirsk, Khabarovsk, and Vladivostok.
Victory Day (Our Lady of Victories Day)
In 1565, the Hospitallers, or the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, with 6,000-9,000 men, held Malta against a four-month siege by some 29,000 Ottoman Turks. The onslaught left half the knights dead, but the Turks didn't fare well either—the knights used the heads of Turkish captives as cannonballs, and the defeat of the Turks humbled the Ottoman Empire. (Malta was under the control of the knights, a religious and military order of the Roman Catholic Church dedicated to tending the sick and poor and warring against Muslims, from 1530 until June 1798, when Napoleon took possession of the island.)
During World War II, the island fought off Axis powers (Germany and Italy) despite three years of severe air bombardment. In April 1942, air-raid alerts averaged about 10 a day; the ruins included the Royal Opera House in Valletta, destroyed by a German bomb. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called Malta "our only unsinkable aircraft carrier."
On April 15, 1942, England's King George VI awarded the island of Malta the George Cross, Britain's highest decoration for civilian gallantry, to "honour her brave people ... to bear witness to a heroism and devotion which will long be famous in history." This was the first time a medal was conferred on any part of the commonwealth. At this time, Britain also declared that self-government would be restored at the end of hostilities.
The holiday is celebrated with parades, fireworks, and a colorful regatta and boat races in the Grand Harbour at Valletta. A highlight of the boat races is that of the dgnajsas, oared taxi boats with painted designs. They are thought to date back to Phoenician times (800 b.c.e.).
See also Malta Independence Day
Malta National Tourist Office
65 Broadway, Ste. 823
New York, NY 10006
212-430-3799; fax: 425-795-3425
AnnivHol-2000, p. 151
Victory Day (Russia)
Embassy of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007
202-298-5700; fax: 202-298-5735
AnnivHol-2000, p. 79
FestWrld: Russia-1997, p. 13
Celebrated in: Russian Federation