On March 8th, countries throughout the world will celebrate International Women’s Day. This significant holiday celebrates women’s economic, political, and social contributions and raises awareness about the current injustices women face. Though International Women’s Day is an international holiday, it is particularly important to the men and women of Russia.
International Women’s Day in Russia: A Brief History
In 1913, the women of Russia observed International Women’s Day for the first time. Female activists joined together to protest World War I and by 1914 women from other European countries added their voices to the protests in an expression of women’s solidarity.
The activism didn’t stop there. Inflamed by the deaths of over 2 million Russian soldiers in World War I, Russian women begin striking “for bread and peace” on March 8, 1917. The strike led to the eventual abdication of the Czar and the provisional government gave Russian women the right to vote. The protests helped paved the way for the Russian revolution and the rise of feminist Alexandra Kollontai. Kollontai fought for the rights of women and persuaded Lenin to make International Women’s Day a public holiday in the Soviet Union.
The Holiday Today
Over the years, International Women’s Day lost its feminist edge and has become more a celebration of women in general. Men honor women for their beauty, femininity, and mothering skills and present gifts of flowers, chocolate, perfume, makeup, etc. Breakfast in bed and a day’s respite from household chores are also treats Russian women enjoy on this special day. Though International Women’s Day has been called a mix of Mother’s Day and St. Valentine’s Day, the holiday is not exclusive to mothers, wives, or sweethearts. Men honor all women on March 8, so daughters, sisters, friends, and co-workers receive tokens of appreciation as well.
Want to honor your special lady on International Women's Day? Why not send her a small gift, a heartfelt message, or both? She'll be impressed of your knowledge of Russian culture and flattered that you remembered her on this special day.