Defender of the Fatherland Day is a holiday observed in Russia and many former Soviet republics. It is celebrated 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 in Petrograd and Moscow. It was originally known as Red Army Day. In 1949, it was renamed Soviet Army and Navy Day. Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the holiday was given its current name.
As the name suggests, the holiday celebrates the soldiers of the Russian military, but it has also more recently come to include the celebration of men as a whole, and to act as a counterpart of International Women's Day on March 8. The holiday is celebrated with parades and processions in honor of veterans, and women also give small gifts to the Russian men in their lives, especially a boyfriend or husband. Consequently, in colloquial usage, the holiday is often referred to as Men's Day.