Defender of the Fatherland Day (or Men’s Day) is a Russian holiday celebrated on February 23 and focuses on the achievements of military forces and veterans.
Many Russians consider February 23 as men’s day because military service is essential for most men in Russia. Women often give presents and postcards to their male relatives and co-workers, including those who never been in the army. Also it is more and more common for women who serve in the army to be honored on this day as well. For students studying Russian language in St Petersburg this day may be a quite unusual holiday.
It is a public holiday all over the Russian Federation, so most schools, banks and official buildings are closed. Russian authorities may organize local parades in honor of the military and veterans on this day.
Defender of the Fatherland Day is a veritably Russian creation, first observed to mark the date of the creation of the Red (Soviet) Army in 1918. In 1938, Soviet history books started claiming that the Red Army won an important victory over German invaders on February 23, 1918, but there weren’t any evidences in the independent sources supported this statement.
Between 1936 and 1990, February 23 was known as the Soviet Army and Navy Day. In 1991 it became a workday. The Russian parliament reintroduced it as a public holiday in 2002, after renaming it as Defender of the Fatherland Day.
For our students, who want to study Russian, there are some Russian phrases that are needed to greet men on February 23rd