International Women’s Day (March 8) and Red Army Day (February 23) are both holidays whose original meaning and significance have almost been forgotten. Both are Soviet political holidays which have latterly become little more than romantic opportunities for both men and women. March 8 is an official state holiday - and is therefore a day off for most people – and on it every man in the country is supposed to present flowers and gifts to every woman in his life (mothers, wives, children, mistresses, mothers-in-law…) In addition, men are expected to take over cooking and cleaning duties for the day.
Red Army Day on the other hand has become an unofficial Men’s Day. It is not a state holiday, but most Ukrainians choose to celebrate it at work, with women presenting male colleagues with small gifts. For many people, however, especially for older Red Army veterans, it still has its original meaning: a heroic tribute to the sacrifice of generations of men who served in the Red Army.