Valentine’s Day (February 14)

In some countries, this day is not only about romantic relationships: for example, in Estonia it’s celebrated as “Friend’s day.” Here in Russia, however, we call it a “day for all those in love” and only congratulate our “better halves.” Typically, you won’t find people leaving Valentine Day’s cards on each other’s desks or giving out sweets, like they might in other countries. 

This holiday was widely celebrated in the Russian Empire, then forgotten during the Soviet period, and returned to our calendar in the ‘90s. I wouldn’t say we take it too seriously but why not use it as an extra reason to remind your loved ones that they are, well, loved? If flowers and a heart-shaped card sound a bit too corny for you, check out our gift ideas below.

Defender of the Fatherland Day (February 23)

On this day, it’s common in Russia to congratulate all men as it’s considered to be not only Defender of the Fatherland Day but also Men’s Day. Still, it’s better to focus on those around you who actually have some experience in the military, including women.

Stereotypical gifts for this occasion, which are often joked about, include socks and shaving cream – apparently, those are the things all men hope for. We suggest you avoid that kind of stuff and either go for something more personalized or neutral – say, a book or a flask.

International Women’s Day (March 8)

International Women’s day in Russia is all about the flowers. Whether a bouquet is a stereotypical gift for women or not, it’s still beautiful, neutral, universal, and won’t take up space at home forever. So, again, in a corporate environment, several tulips or roses and nice wishes will suffice. If you want to make it more substantial but aren’t very well aware of personal preferences, add a gift certificate.

Gift ideas online

These days, many of us are either stuck at home or are separated from our loved ones by distances and borders. What do you do if you still want to surprise them with a gift? You either make use of various delivery services, from Amazon to Ozon, or go with fully digital options. Those include digital certificates and awesome online courses. Just to give you some examples: 

Digital gift certificates: 


  • You can purchase one of many of Domestika’s courses as a gift for arts & crafts lovers.

  • Master’s school, an organization that hosts various lectures on the history of art, and also offers online courses (in Russian).

  • ZELO is a project dedicated to ancient Russian history, some of the courses are available for purchase here.

Traditions & superstitions

It’s not that easy with presents, there are certain rules, and even though not everyone takes them seriously these days, it might be useful to know them:

  • In Russia, an even number of flowers is associated with death and is only used at funerals or at memorials. So, unless you go with a huge number (at least 100!), go with an odd number.

  • Artificial flowers might be beautiful and lasting but they are also kind of associated with funeral wreaths, so in most cases it’s better to avoid them.

  • It’s considered a bad sign to be gifted an empty wallet or a bag. Not everyone is superstitious but just to be safe, add a couple of coins!

  • This might sound trivial, but don’t forget to conceal the price of a gift or cut off the price tag.

  • Don’t overdo it! By presenting someone you barely know with a valuable gift, you’ll only make them uncomfortable. The safest option, as it goes, is to ask what’s on their wishlist in advance. 

To learn more about Russian holidays, check out our recent article on upcoming holidays, an International Women’s day story, as well as this piece on great Russian women or this guide to cool gifts that you can bring from Russia.