Every year on August 22, Russia celebrates the Russian Federation State Flag Day, established on August 20, 1994. On this day Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed the Presidential Decree No. 1714, stating that the flag day should be celebrated on August 22, in honor of the restoration of the historical flag of Russia during the August events of 1991.
As a matter of fact, on August 22, 1991 the tricolor Russian flag was officially raised for the first time over the Russian White House in Moscow, definitively replacing the Soviet flag as the state symbol and national flag of the Russian Federation.
Today, the “State Tricolor” is one of the official state symbols, along with the National Anthem and Emblem – a red heraldic shield with an open winged double-headed crowned golden eagle.
The flag, a rectangular horizontal tricolor, consists of three equal horizontal stripes: the upper – white, middle – blue and lower – red, with a 2:3 length-to-width ratio.
Although it is widely believed that the first tricolor was hoisted during the reign of Alexei Mikhailovich on the first Russian warship Orel in 1668, it is Peter I who is commonly recognized as the real “father” of the tricolor. On January 31, 1705 he issued a decree ordering a white-blue-red flag to be hoisted on all merchant ships, after having drawn the pattern and determined the color order himself.
However, to this day historians still disagree about the true meaning of the flag’s colors and why were they chosen. According to one version, the white represents freedom, blue – the Virgin Mary as Our Lady Derzhavnaya, Patron of Russia, and red – the sovereignty. Whereas, according to another common interpretation the white represents nobility and purity, blue – honesty and fidelity, and red – the courage of the Russian people.
Despite the fact that the holiday has not yet been made official, nowadays many events are held in its honor, including parades, competitions and flash mobs. This year, for example, celebrations will be held in Moscow from August 22 to 25.
However, this is a relatively young tradition: the first celebrations were held only in 2007 in Saint Petersburg, were the flag was solemnly raised on the bastion of the Peter and Paul Fortress for the first time in history, while the Midday Cannon Shot was fired by city residents of different generations. At the same time in Moscow, the largest tricolor ever was raised on the Krylatskoye Rowing Canal, measuring 383 m² and weighting 26 kg.