March 8th – Celebrating Women’s Day in Russia
Every year on March 8th Russian women become the center of attention. This day is reserved for Russian men to pamper their wife, girlfriend, mother, sisters and favorite female co-workers with flowers, little presents or just an extra bit of attention. In a way, Women’s Day in Russia is like a mixture between Valentine’s and Mother’s Day. Also, it is a national holiday, so a non-working day, where most stores and bigger institutions are closed.
Traditionally Russians celebrate Women’s Day with family or close friends in the comfort of their own home. Popular presents for women are fragrances, high-end make up, jewelry, invitations to coffee or dinner and above all- flowers. However, there are certain rules which apply to giving flowers in Russia, so make sure to read until the end of this post, in order to avoid making embarrassing mistakes, when trying to make a Russian woman happy. But first let’s have a look at the history of Women’s Day in Russia.
Origin of the Celebration of Women’s Day in Russia
The origin of Women’s Day or as it is often referred to International Women’s Day is deeply interconnected with the fight of early feminists for gender equality. In the beginning of the 20th century Clara Zetkin, a German women’s rights activist , called for the establishment of the ‘International Women’s Day’, to remind the world of the need for an equal treatment of men and women.
Women’s day in Russia has been celebrated since 1913. However, the year 1917 constituted a turning point to the history of the holiday. Stricken by World War I, women in Russia started to protest in demand for ‘bread and peace’. Today it is believed that the protests of women in Saint Petersburg triggered the beginning of the Russian Revolution. Since the October Revolution in 1918 women and men were officially considered equal and therefore women did not need a holiday to fight for their rights anymore. This is how Women’s Day in Russia became more or less the holiday we know today: The celebration of women as a whole, with presents, declarations of love and of course with flowers. In the next paragraph I want to draw your attention to an especially sensitive topic: The right way to give flowers in Russia.
4 Tips on how to give Flowers on March 8th
Know the meaning of numbers: Make sure always to give an uneven number of flowers, because an even number is only given on funerals or brought to the graveyard.
Choose the right flowers: Tulips are associated with spring. Together with mimosas and daffodils they are the favorite flowers for Women’s Day.
Pay attention to the color: If your beloved one is superstitious, avoid picking yellow flowers. Except from mimosas and daffodils, they are considered to be a sign of farewell and infidelity. You can never go wrong with red and white flowers, however.
Plan ahead: If you order flowers for Women’s Day via the internet, you should do so 3-4 days in advance. Flowers shops are extremely busy on the day itself and hence need some time to process the orders.
This blog was brought to you by Ayla Opatz, currently studying Russian an Liden & Denz.