March 8th – International Women’s Day

March 8th, 2013 by Tatiana

Today, the 8th of March, is International Women’s Day, which is the celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women. Although it is called International, I found out that not all countries celebrate or even know about it. The UK is just one example. I managed to find this map which shows exactly where International Women’s Day is celebrated.

March 8th is a big public holiday in Russia which is most frequently celebrated in the family circle or  with close friends with a festive meal.  It is traditional for men to give flowers, postcards, chocolates, small memorable gifts not only to their wives, but also to their mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, female friends as well as colleagues. It is the celebration of women, their beauty, their femininity, their elegance, their strengths and their achievements. Since International Women’s Day is a non-working day in Russia, office workers celebrate it the day before the holiday.

There is a lot of information on the internet about this special day. This is just an extract taken from The International Women’s Day website:

“International Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900’s, a time of great    expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of    radical ideologies.

1913-1914    On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February 1913.   In 1913 following discussions, International Women’s Day was transferred to 8  March and this day has remained the global date for International Women’s Day ever since. In 1914 further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women’s solidarity”

To read the rest of the article, as well as to see a video provided by RT click here 

I miss March 8th celebrations. For me this holiday was always associated with the arrival of spring, when the snow starts melting and little streams of water run here and there, the first buds appear on the trees and the air is fresher. It is connected with the revival of nature and I always wanted to make myself pretty and “fresh”. I do miss the change of seasons. Here, in the UK, it seems like one long season – autumn. Looking out of the window now, it’s raining and the streams are from rain and not from melting snow.

For me the symbol of March 8th has always been bright yellow Mimosa flowers. “Mimosa flowers?”, the Brits would ask me. “Not sure I know them”. Indeed,  I could never find Mimosas and people do not seem to be familiar with this plant in the UK . If you ask Brits about mimosas you would most likely get an answer “it’s a drink”. Yes, Mimosa is also the name of a drink. When I say it to the Russians I get a surprised “What??”

So, my dear fellow Brits and all others who do not know what the Mimosa plant looks like – this picture (not taken by me) is for you. And if you manage to find it and make me a lucky owner of it on Women’s Day, I would be the happiest woman!

My fellow Russians, I intoduce the Mimosa cocktail to you – a mix of champagne (or sparkling wine) with orange juice. It is mostly drunk at late breakfasts and brunches but I am having one now, whilst I am writing this post. I haven’t got any Mimosa fllowers but  I have a Mimosa drink!!

The flowers that I did get are these beautiful roses and lilies that should open any day soon. Thank you, S! And also thank you to all the people who said beautiful words to me on this special day! I feel like a loved woman for sure.

For those who wonder if there is the same day for men in Russia, my answer is yes! February 23rd is the Day of the Defender of the Fatherland (originally Red Army Day), also knows as Men’s Day. It is a bit of a shame really that it comes before Women’s Day as women need to treat men before men treat women which is kind of unfair ;) for women, of course.

Even though International Women’s Day is not celebrated in the UK, there is a festive atmosphere here because Mother’s Day, which honors mothers and motherhood, is on March 10th. It can to some extent be compared with International Women’s Day but it is not the same. First of all, it has its roots in Christianity and began as a largely religious celebration. Secondly, it is not observed on the same day every year and it depends on Easter. To be more precise, Mother’s Day, or Mothering Sunday, is always the fourth Sunday of Lent, which lasts from Ash Wednesday to the day before Easter Sunday. This year Easter falls on March 30th, therefore Mother’s Day is on March 10th. This holiday is largely focused around mothers, when people pay tribute to the role mums play in their lives, giving thanks for everything they do. This means non-mothers, like me, are left without attention..

The best part about belonging to several cultures means that you embrace them. This is very important in any kind of multicultural relationship, as it is not only a sign of respect, but it also broadens your mind. Congratulating somebody on their special day which isn’t really observed in your own culture is an honourable thing to do. Getting Happy Woman’s Day from people I never expected I would is very pleasant. And the best thing is that when I become a mother, I can celebrate both holidays. I just hope they dont fall on the same day :)

One of the biggest traditions on Mother’s Day is giving flowers. Florists and shops prepare lavish arrangements of flowers. Millions of cards with words “Mum, I love you”, “To the Best Mum in the World”, “Thank you, Mother” are being sold everywhere. I went shopping earlier today and could not pass by these beautiful flowers without taking photos of them. I dedicate these photos to all the wonderful women around the world. May we know them! May we be them! May we raise them!

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