A Salute to the Role of Russian Women:
Many American men stereotype Russia as a country with a history of upheaval and war. Yet it is Russian women, who celebrated their first International Women’s Day campaigning for peace when they joined together in feminine solidarity to make their feelings known to the world on the eve of World War I. In Russia, it was the 4th Sunday in February. For those using the Gregorian calendar, that day was March 8th.
Ever since becoming part of the world wide movement that has freed women from oppression and inequality, Russian women have continued to be at the forefront of endeavors meant to improve world conditions. This has been not only for their gender sisters, but ultimately for their men as well.
One historical example, which illustrates this occurred in 1917 on Russia’s February 23rd, is America’s March 8th. Russian women gathered together to protest the death of over 2 million of their countrymen whose lives had been lost in the War. Despite opposition from political leaders, they staged a strike for “bread and peace,” which lasted four days until the czar was forced to abdicate. During the rule of the provisional government, which succeeded him, Russian women were finally given the right to vote so they could have a say in what would be imposed on their husbands, boyfriends and sons.
“The Art of Gift Giving”
In modern times, International Women’s day is a public holiday where important traditions are observed in Russia and other Russian speaking countries. Men honor the women in their lives with flowers and small gifts such as chocolates. Women can be seen at lunchtime carrying their flowers on the street as a symbol of the love and affection of which they are worthy. Tulips and Roses are the flowers of choice. In metro stations and other heavily foot-trafficked places, vendors arrive early with ribbon wrapped bouquets for purchase. Greeting cards are given and are of particular importance to women because they are personal. Often on the cover of cards commemorating International Women’s Day, you will see written:
Восьмое марта [vas’-MOY] or 8 Марта [vas’-MO-ye MAR-ta] which means March 8th .
You may also see:
С Днём 8-го (восьмого) марта [s DNYOM vas'-MO-va MAR-ta] or С 8 Марта (с восьмым) марта [s vas’-MIM MAR-ta] which means Happy March 8th.
Inside the card, men often write inspirational or congratulatory verses. While it is always appreciated if the poem is written by the man from his heart, many men resort to using ones they have found online or copied from other sources. Some websites where you can find poems for Intenational Women’s Day in the Russian language are Pozdrav or Yandex.ru or Etost.
There is no Mother’s Day in Russian-speaking countries, so if a woman has children, International Women’s Day gives the man in their life the opportunity to also acknowledge their contributions to the home and raising of family.
Since International Women’s Day is a public holiday, women are often honored by bosses and work colleagues the day before. Having already been celebrated by men, who are not romantically connected to her, a woman may wake up on March 8th with high expectations regarding the man with whom she is dating or in a relationship. American men can compare such feelings as those American women have on both Valentine’s and Mother’s Day.
For the man courting a Russian woman, he does well to make sure to add International Women’s Day to his agenda. For a Russian woman, she has a special holiday that gives her the chance to be acknowledged for all the things she has to offer the world, including what she brings to that special man in her life.
By JennG—Copyright 2014