The national personification of Russia dates back to Medieval Rus. The Russian lands were often identified as the mother of the Russian people and so were often personified as a female character. The idea continued to proliferate right up till the Civil War, when the White Army used the idea in their struggle against the Bolshevik ‘oppressors of Mother Russia’.

After the civil war, the image of Mother Russia didn’t fit with Bolshevik ideology, as it was considered that ‘the proletariat have no country’, and the idea became a symbol of the backwardness of tsarist Russia. However, a new personification developed, Rodina Mat, who was the mother of all peoples of the Soviet Union.

During the Second World War, the image became immensely important in propaganda calling Russians to the defence of the Motherland. But the war itself is know at the Great Patriotic War, and today is Defender of the Fatherland Day. So....

The Russian Student needs your help! When is the Motherland, not the Motherland? In what circumstances is it common to think of Russia as female, and when is it considered male. Please comment below!