The day that celebrates women’s achievement and focuses on gender equality, is widely known, but it is not yet widely celebrated. But in Russia it is a big day.
Our Russian Flower Factor colleague Irina Solovyova has been living in the Netherlands for 15 years now and shares the customs in her native country.
Most of the time you got Mimosa
“In Russia, International Women’s Day has been celebrated since 1913 and it became a national holiday in 1917. It is a very important tradition and Russian women get lots of attention and gifts. When I was growing up, flowers were the most precious and expensive gift you could get. Most of the time, the choice of flowers was limited to Mimosa. It was one of the few flowers available that time of year as it grew in the southern states of the Sovjet Union.”
But flowers weren’t the only option: “In school, the boys were supposed to give small presents to the girls as well on March 8th. Most times they brought us cakes or candies. But they had no reason to be jealous of all the attention for girls. On February 23rd the boys had already been treated to gifts and postcards, as that is Defender of the Fatherland Day.”
Your boss might even give you a day off!
Nowadays flowers are widely available in Russia and International Women’s Day is the busiest time for florists. “Roses and Chrysanthemums are popular but all flowers are appreciated. The flowers are not just for you as a wife or girlfriend; traditionally mothers, sisters, grandmothers, female colleagues and other important women get flowers too. And your boss might even give you (part of) the day off!”
On the subject of why International Women’s Day is so popular in Russia, Irina says: “It is a treasured tradition that everyone is familiar with. When my Dutch husband and me lived in Moscow for a couple of years, he was well introduced in the tradition. Besides, in Russia there’s no such thing as Mother’s Day, so that might explain part of the popularity as well. But ever since we’re back in the Netherlands, I only get flowers on Mother’s Day. International Women’s Day is just not a big day here in the Netherlands. Yet!”