May 9th is celebrated as Victory and Peace Day in Armenia. This is a day to celebrate victory over the Nazi forces, May 8th, 1945, as well as to mourn the dead lost in the Great Patriotic War. The sacrifices of the soldiers in those years are honored by a variety of services and ceremonies.
History of Victory and Peace Day
In World War II, Armenia was aligned with the Soviet Union. Over 500,000 Armenians fought with the Soviets and suffered nearly 250,000 casualties. As you may know, World War II started with the occupation of Poland by Nazi forces in 1939. Six years later, it would end in Europe. Armenians participated in what is known as the Great Patriotic War. Mussolini was caught and later executed on April 28, while Hitler committed suicide only two days later. This was considered the beginning of the end for the Nazi Regime. The allied forces began to close in on Berlin causing German forces to surrender on every front. The German army officially surrendered May 8th, a cause for celebration throughout Europe.
In the Soviet Union, the end of the war was officially recognized on May 9th. This is because it had already passed midnight in Moscow by the time the treaty was signed. Because of this, May 9th is celebrated as Victory Day in the Soviet States. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Armenia decided to stick to that tradition for the countries national celebration of Victory and Peace. This is a day to recognize the brave soldiers who fought in the Great Patriotic War or the battles of the Eastern front.
Armenia's Victory and Peace Day Traditions
We, Armenians, honor our loved ones and ancestors who died in World War II, and to celebrate our victory over the Nazi regime. War veterans donning our medals pay tribute to the soldiers that fell in World War II. We all gather at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Yerevan's Victory Park in order to pay our respects to the fallen Armenians. Inside of the park, there is an eternal flame burning to honor the fallen soldiers, and it is common for families of the fallen to lay flowers and decorate the spot in the memory of the fallen. It is common for official ceremonies to be performed throughout the day. Armenia's top officials, commanders, and diplomats gather to give speeches and perform ceremonies. The honoring of the veterans continues to this day. The more festive celebrations include performances by local Armenian artists and musicians, and poetry is often read. It is not only a day to mourn those that have been lost, but to celebrate the peace and victory that has been established from our sacrifice.