March 8 is recognized as an International Women’s Day – at least, that’s what I’ve been taught in my culture. I remember even in kindergarten boys would congratulate girls with this holiday, especially girls that they like.
Since I came to America, however, I’ve come to realize that even in this aspect it differs from my home country. Mother’s day is the nearest equivalent holiday in the U.S. that comes close to showing women some honor and appreciation.
Little did I know. While checking my e-mail I stumbled upon a message from 123greetings in my inbox, inviting me to use their site and send out greeting e-cards for International Women’s Day, yes precisely the one on March 8.
This prompted me to do some research. In the past, I’ve asked my friends if they have heard about it, but came to the conclusion that “International” was simply a false title for the holiday – people from different backgrounds than me just didn’t seem to know what I was talking about.
According to a website dedicated specifically to IWD, March 8 is currently an official holiday in Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The tradition began in the early twentieth century, a move strongly tied to the growth of the women’s rights movement as well as the rise of the socialist parties throughout the world. In fact, according to this source, it was precisely in America that it was first celebrated on February 28, 1909, instituted by none other than the American Socialist Party. This was in response to the march of women through New York City in 1908, during which 15,000 women marched to demand shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. A few years later, following a meeting of the International Socialist Party at Copenhagen, European countries began to recognize this holiday. Ironically, less than a week later a disastrous fire hit the NYC Triangle factory, killing many women, and bringing attention to horrible working conditions. In the Soviet Union, women began a strike “for bread and peace” while the men were being slain in WWI. The czar abdicated the throne and the women were granted voting rights. Ever since then the holiday grew in recognition globally, and a date of March 8 was set. The United Nation has held annual conferences to promote women’s emancipation.
Today, many countries still observe this holiday and hold festivals and events in honor of it. Apparently, the U.S. named the whole month of March as “Women’s History Month.”
Who knew? I sure didn’t.
And if you’re wondering if men are left out of the equation, don’t worry, there’s a holiday especially for men as well. On February 23, the nations of the former Soviet Union commemorate and honor the mass draft into the Red Army during the Russian Civil War. This day is known as “Defender of the Fatherland” and serves to celebrate males and counterbalance the celebration of women on March 8.
Does anyone celebrate March 8 here in the good ol’ USA besides people of the Old Soviet Union Nations? Post your replies, I’d be happy to reed them!