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Sometimes simply referred to as “Defenders Day,” this event takes place each year to honor the veterans of the Ukrainian army who have sacrificed much to fight for their country. In addition, the day is meant to pay respect to those fallen forces who have given their lives in defense of their nation. 

History of Ukraine Defender Day

The plans for Ukraine Defenders Day were announced by then-president Petro Poroshenko in 2014 and the inaugural celebration of the day took place the following year on October 14, 2015. The reason behind the founding of this day was to create a separation between the military holidays of Russia and the former Soviet Union and to, instead, honor the defenders of the Ukrainian homeland.

As might have been expected, Ukraine Defender Day took a bit of time to grow in celebration and popularity. Just two years after its first observance, the holiday was only celebrated by 10% of the Ukrainian population, but as time has passed, more and more people have included it as an annual event in their families and communities. Since the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, a reprisal of Defender Day has been seen not only in Ukraine, but throughout the diaspora of Ukrainians represented all over the globe. In 2023, the date was changed to be celebrated on October 1 going forward.

How to Observe Ukraine Defender Day

Consider some of these ideas for learning more about and observing Ukraine Defender Day:

Learn More About Ukraine 

Getting more educated and informed about different places and cultures throughout the world is an excellent way to show support and appreciation on this day and any day of the year. In celebration of Ukraine Defenders Day, perhaps it would be a fun idea to learn and share some interesting facts about Ukraine. Teachers and parents can use this as an opportunity to get out a map for geography lessons or lean into some social studies topics with their children.

Check out and share some of these interesting facts, perhaps on social media, in honor of Ukraine Defenders Day:

  • In terms of land area, Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe, with more than 233,000 square miles (slightly smaller than Texas) and making up almost 6% of Europe’s land mass

  • There are 20 different languages spoken in Ukraine and about 18% of the population speak English

  • Ukraine is home to seven different UNESCO world heritage sites, including Saint Sophia Cathedral in the capital city, Kyiv

  • Many people don’t realize that the practice of coloring Easter eggs originated in Ukraine

Make a Charitable Donation

Recent events in Ukraine have had devastating effects for many families throughout the country. Ukraine Defender Day might be a good time to make a donation to a charitable organization that is helping provide aid to those impacted. Different groups are helping to meet the various needs of refugees and displaced peoples, as well as families who are continuing to live on in Ukraine. The website for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) might be a good place to start.  

Honor a Ukrainian Defender

Those who have personal relationships with people from Ukraine may want to spend time asking to hear stories about what Ukraine Defender Day means to them. Perhaps it would be a time to say ‘thank you’ to a former soldier or other person who has made a commitment to keeping the people of their country safe.

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