The Day of the Mari Hero – Марий талешке кече – is the most important Mari national day.
The day, celebrated on April 26, is one of the most interesting national holidays of Finno-Ugric peoples living in the Russian Federation. According to legend, it is on this day in 1556 that Poltysh (Boltush), the Mari national hero, leader of the Mari of Malmysh (currently Kirov Oblast) and one of the most important historical Mari figures, fell in battle. Between 1552-1585, the Mari fought against Muscovy and they achieved many victories in battle. The period of over 30 years of war has come to be known as the Cheremis Wars (after the old name for the Mari).
The Cheremis Wars had an impact on the cotemporary Livonian War (1558-1583), because of which the Grand Duke Ivan the Terrible could not attack Livonia with all his might. The furious resistance of the Mari at the time broke the image circulated during Soviet times, according to which all nations wanted to join Russia voluntarily. In the Mari case, this was certainly not so.
The resistance leader, Count Poltysh died near the town of Malmysh on 26 April 1556.
The idea to celebrate April 26 as the Day of the Mari Hero was suggested at the first Mari national congress in 1917 by one of the congress leaders, the Mari clergyman and ethnographer Pavel Glezdenyov. The corresponding decision to celebrate the Day of the Mari Hero was made in October 1992 at the third Mari congress. The day has been celebrated in Estonia since 1994.