Many countries around the world celebrate Navy Day but few can boast Ukraine’s fascinating history. So, what’s Navy Day all about?
Celebrated since the mid-1990s, it’s a chance for those that serve in Ukraine’s Navy Fleet to have a holiday, remember those who have been lost, and party with fellow servicepeople.
Understandably, the holiday is far more popular in Ukraine’s southern ports, like Odesa and Mariupol. In the Port of Odesa, for example, there is naval flag raising and wreath laying ceremonies.
But Ukrainians everywhere deserve the chance to celebrate so to spread the popularity of the holiday, the Ukrainian Navy is partnering with cities throughout the country to host naval flag raising ceremonies today.
Of course, the Ukrainian Navy has been in the news often in the last few years. From the annexation of Ukrainian ports in Crimea, to the Sea Breeze joint navy manoeuvres with NATO and the US, to the seizure of sailors in the Kerch Strait incident, Ukrainians are reminded of the dangers these servicepeople face on a daily basis.
Traditionally celebrated on 1 August, President Yushchenko changed the date to the first Sunday in July so that it would always fall on a weekend. President Yanukovych later changed the date to coincide with Russia’s Navy Day, notorious for the drunken exploits of its sailors – just ask your friends to show you some YouTube clips! Which begs the question: what do they do with a drunken sailor? Well, they shave his belly with a rusty razor!
Following the annexation of Crimea – where Ukraine lost 5 of its 20 ports – President Poroshenko changed the date back to early July so as to “honour the defenders of our homeland – not someone else’s”.
Sailors around the country take the day to feast with friends and family. Often, you’ll find sailors jumping into whatever water they can find – even in ponds and fountains here in Kyiv!
With no official events planned in Kyiv, maybe the best way you can celebrate is to head to the cinema to catch U311 Cherkasy, a film about the last ship to surrender during Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The $1.5 million blockbuster was funded, in part, by the Ukrainian Navy, so even without English subtitles – it’ll still be a great way to celebrate Ukrainian Navy Day!