On this beautifulholiday, alsocalled«праздниквесны»[‘spring holiday'] in Russia, there are two ways you could congratulate the fairer sex: «Поздравляемвсехженщинс 8 (восьмым) марта!» [(We) congratulate all women with the 8th of March!] or «Смеждународнымженскимднёмвас/тебя!» [Happy International Women's day to you!].
Once again it is that time of the year in Russia – the time to give flowers to all of the women in your life and wish for them to remain as beautiful and wonderful and sweet as they are today forever! (That’s usually what is said when you hand over a splendid, colorful bouquet to a woman in Russia on this day.) One can say whatever one might want to say about the fact that International Women’s Day is a public holiday in Russia (with Monday off for everyone this year as it falls on a Sunday) but the longer I live here, the more I’ve come to like it. At first it seemed a little bit odd to me, but at least it is more justified than ‘Man Day’ the 23rd of February, since celebrating women can never be done enough in any country in the world today. This year I had classes at the university on the Saturday before, and I must say that it was a very pleasant experience to watch how students kept walking around the university to give big bouquets of bright flowers to their female professors, wishing them to ‘remain as beautiful, wonder and sweet’ as they are today forever. As there is only one male student in our group of 21 Master’s students, he celebrated all of ‘his’ girls with cake on the lunch break (chivalry is not dead indeed!). Many of the girls gave out chocolate during class to us and wished each other many kind things and the «настроение» [mood] of us all in the classroom was raised to an all-time high. In Russia «женскийдень» [‘women's day' or ‘the female day'] is closely related to the concept of «весна» [spring], which is always highly anticipated in this country of a «зима» that seems to last for an eternity of four or even five months… I know this day is a political day in many countries, and a day on which feminists are supposed the march the streets demanding equality, but living in Russia has somewhat twisted my views on that. In my mind, after celebrating this day for the fifth time here, I’ve come to see giving flowers to women in your life today as a symbol of greeting the ‘life-giving’ force of spring to nature, as women give life to human beings.
The traditional flower given today is the yellow, soft-smelling «мимоза» [mimosa], as seen on this picture behind the ingredients of «глинтвейн» [‘glintwein' or hot wine]: «апельсиновыйсок» [orange juice], «приправадляглинтвейна» [seasoning for hot wine (sold in most stores in Russia all year around; what a glorious country this is!) and «красноеполусладкоевино» [red semisweet wine]. I decided to have my closest girlfriends over and treat them to this my specialty, as it’s still cold and the snow has only just begun to melt away….
Traditionally today is the day when you celebrate the women close to you – be it your wife, your girlfriend, your mother, grandmother or just women you study/work with. What I especially like about Russia is that women congratulate each other on this day, which makes it feel like such a warm and loving holiday. In a way, one could say that it fills the function of Mother’s Day in most countries (for some countries ‘Parents’ Day’). One of my classmates yesterday, when I asked her what she thought of this day, said that: «Менябеситто, чтотолькоодинденьвгодуносятженщинамцветы!» [What drives me crazy is that women are only given flowers one day a year!]. That’s true, and got me thinking that it is strange that I only send my mother a card telling her how much I love her and how thankful I am for her giving birth to me ONE day a year, when I should really do it more often, and remind her of how important she is to me on any given day of the year. Just as we should give flowers and chocolate to each other and tell people in our lives how much they mean to us more often. And not only when there’s a red day in the calendar…
Two of my closest friends, «КсенияиМарина» [Xenia and Marina] preparing «фруктовыйсалат» [fruit salad] «накоммунальнойкухневобщаге» [in the communal kitchen in the dorm («общага» is the colloquial word for «общежитие»: dormitory, lit. ‘communal living’) earlier today.
But since today is after all marked in the calendar I would like to whish all of you a beautiful International Women’s Day and to remind you all of the following – if nobody brings you flowers there’s nothing wrong with buying a bouquet for yourself!