Russian Language Blog

Russian Perspective on International Women’s Day Posted by on Mar 4, 2014 in Culture, Russian life, Traditions


In a few short days, on March 8 to be exact, most Russian women will wake up in anticipation of something special. For many of them this feeling will be confirmed with gifts of love and affection from family and friends, yet others will face disappointment when their expectations do not come to pass. The day I am referring to bears the name of International Women’s Day and has been a source of mixed emotions since the early twentieth century.

Международный Женский День (International Women’s Day) was conceived at the Second International Women’s Conference in Copenhagen in 1910. It was originally instituted to promote equal rights for women and was meant to be a day when women across the world held demonstrations in an effort to change their societal status. Western popularity of this day was short lived; by the end of 1920-es it was all but forgotten. The same cannot be said about its role in some of the eastern societies. In Russia, March 8 eventually gained the status of a national holiday and landed many people an additional day off on the calendar.

As time went by, the original meaning behind the holiday was replaced by something completely different: expressing affection and gratitude to women in your life. Today March 8th in Russia resembles a combination of American Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

The ways to congratulate Russian women in your life on March 8th are numerous. The humorous song below gives some pointers 🙂 (Remember, to turn subtitles on, push CC at the bottom. You can keep Russian ones on or opt for the English ones).

You can go for the safe and simple “Flowers & candy” ( цветы и конфеты) combo, unless she is not into it. You can prepare a dinner (приготовить ужин) or take her out to dinner (сводить ее в ресторан), surprise her with a poem (стихи) or simply perform an unplanned cleaning (провести незапланированную уборку). Let your imagination be your guide! A typical Russian person would have to think about ALL the ladies in their life: wife/girlfriend, mother, perhaps mother-in-law, daughters, sisters, teachers, sometimes colleagues, etc. The weaker the bond, the less extravagant your gift will be, but even a simple acknowledgment and a few kind words can go a long way.

Not all women, however, are big fans of this holiday. Some of them perceive the holiday as a farce and a sad reminder of the life they wish they had, some consider the holiday sexist, others believe the holiday is made up (это выдуманный праздник).

In 2014 the holiday falls on a Saturday. In Russia, it means that the people who do get a day off, will get to stay home on Monday, March 10th to compensate the merge of the holiday with the weekend.

Since my move to the US in 2003, International Women’s Day is harder and harder for me to remember but I am trying to keep the tradition alive (я пытаюсь сохранить традицию). This year I am planning to make dinner for my mom and give a call to my grandmother and aunt. I am also expecting a call from my father, who is in Russia, on the morning of March 8th.

If you have any cool gift ideas, personal thoughts or experiences pertaining to IWD, please chime in!

Всего хорошего!

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Keep learning Russian with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Jenya

Born in Russia, I spent the first twenty years of my life in Orenburg, Russia and Mogilev, Belarus. For the last eleven years, I've lived in New Hampshire and Michigan, US. While I continue to absorb and adapt to American culture, I am always thrilled to share my Russian heritage with those who find it interesting. Travel, photography and art play a special part in my life. Twitter: @iamnx2u


  1. Ahmed:

    I appreciate these alot.