Defender of the Fatherland Day is one of Russia’s public holidays and is celebrated nationwide on February 23.
The holiday marks the date in 1918 during the Russian Civil War when the first mass draft into the Red Army occurred. Defender of the Fatherland Day was given its current name after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Previously it had been known as Red Army Day and later Soviet Army and Navy Day.
The name of the holiday suggests that Defender of the Fatherland Day is meant to honor men and women who serve or served in the army, but unofficially the holiday is considered to be Men’s Day as opposed to International Women’s Day on March 8.
On Defender of the Fatherland Day women often give small gifts to their husbands, boyfriends, fathers, sons, and male co-workers, though it is less of a rule than giving gifts and flowers to women on International Women’s Day. Some (including men) think that celebrating all men on this day is contrived and that the holiday should just honor army veterans and servicemen.