Today, March 8th, is International Women's Day. It was originally - and still is in many parts of the world - a political holiday to commemorate the struggle for women's rights, instituted by Socialists and Communists in Europe. In 1911, upon suggestion of German Socialist Clara Zetkin, International Women's Day was celebrated in some countries on March 19th (with the day before being the day of commemoration of those fallen in the 1848 March revolution in Germany).
When wives of workers and soldiers from the Petrograd neighbourhood Выборгская сторона went on strike on March 8th 1917 (February 23rd according to the Julian calendar), it was the spark that set the February revolution aflame. In honour of these women, the Second International Conference of Communist Women in Moscow 1921 set the date of the International Women's Day to be March 8th.
The Communist origins of the holiday have been bothering people in the USA, and an alternative history has been constructed, about which you can read more on Wikipedia.
In the Soviet Union and many other east bloc countries in the period after WWII, International Women's Day evolved into a non-political celebration of love for women. (Perhaps it was assumed that since men and women were already equal in the Soviet system, there was no need for the political dimension anymore?) Women are given flowers and chocolates, and there are special parties for women only. Like Mother's Day, Women's Day might typically be the only day of the year when a mother doesn't have to do all the housework.
There is a similar holiday for men, День защитника отечества (Defender of the Fatherland Day) on February 23rd. It was originally a day for celebrating the men and women who have served in the Soviet army, but has evolved into the men's counterpart of Women's Day, where men are given flowers and chocolates and TV broadcasts romantic war movies in the early evening.
We missed Defender of the Fatherland Day this year on Chirayliq, but mum sent me a link to a fun news story about International Women's Day in Russia ...
Apparently, Alexander Ostaschenko and Evgeny Ryndin from Barnaul in the Altai region "had pledged they would run around town naked if 3000 people went on their social networking internet page before International Women's Day on March 8. Two days before deadline already 4000 people had registered. A large crowd of people cheered as they arrived in the city centre, waving flags, posters and flowers." Temperatures were below zero.
I have so far failed to find any independent source for this, or the actual site or profiles of these guys, so we'll have to believe photographer Andrei Kasprishin from Reuters ...