Festival Days – 8th March, International Women’s Day

On a visit to Riga and the Hotel Latvia in March in addition to enjoying the Skyline cocktail bar we decided to eat there as well.

The food was excellent and there was a reasonably priced self-service buffet but what was especially good about his meal was that it happened to coincide with‘International Woman’s Day’ and there were free cocktails for all of us and flowers for the girls.

To be honest I had never heard of ‘International Woman’s Day’ before, it certainly isn’t that big in the United Kingdom, and to be honest I have to say that I thought it was a bit odd to have it on a Saturday, which is a day really reserved for sport, but it turns out that this was just an unhappy coincidence because IWD is held every year on March 8th and is a day of day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women around the world.

It all started in New York when in 1908 fifteen thousand women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

Morocco Volubilis Photography

Then, in 1917, with two million soldiers dead in the war, Russian women chose the last Sunday in February to strike for ‘bread and peace’. This turned out to be hugely significant and a contribution to the overthrow of the Romanovs and four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.

That historic Sunday fell on 23rd February on the Julian calendar, then in use in Russia, but on 8th March on the Gregorian calendar that was in use elsewhere.

It has since become very important in Eastern Europe after a 1965 decree of the USSR Presidium that International Women’s Day was declared as a non working day in the USSR “in commemoration of outstanding merits of the Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defence of their Motherland during the Great Patriotic War, their heroism and selflessness at the front and in rear, and also marking the big contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples and struggle for the peace.”

International Women's day

Another interesting thing is that although Latvia doesn’t care to remember or celebrate much about the Russian occupation they seem happy enough to continue with this day off from work arrangement.

In these days of equality it is important to be fair of course and I am pleased to say that ‘International Men’s Day’ is an international holiday, celebrated on the first Saturday of November.  It was first suggested by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1999 and was supported fully by the United Nations.

Prisoner Dwarf Wroclaw Poland

 

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17 responses to “Festival Days – 8th March, International Women’s Day

  1. Interesting. I had no idea part of it originated in the US. It is hardly mentioned here. I first heard about it when I visited Italy.

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    • I had never heard of it until that visit to Latvia. It seems to be getting increased coverage here though. My guess is that it is potentially too close to UK Mother’s Day to ever really catch on but we shall see, it is a great marketing opportunity.

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  2. Happy International Women’s Day.
    We celebrate this day wholeheartedly in Canada. 🙂

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    • Not here in UK. As I said I suspect this might be because it falls too close to Mother’s Day which generally falls in March (4th Sunday in Lent) which I understand is different from US and Canada. Interesting that we choose different dates for the same event. Father’s day appears to be one and the same in June.
      Businesses here have managed to broaden Mother’s Day to include Aunties and Grandmas and there are only so many greetings cards that people can send and receive!
      I don’t know anyone who has ever celebrated International Men’s Day!

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  3. I’d never heard of it – until this morning that is when they were discussing it on the radio. Amazed now to learn it’s been celebrated for over a hundred years!!

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  4. ‘a day reserved for sport’ cracked me up.

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  5. Amazing that it began in New York, since it is hardly recognized in the USA. I first encountered it in Ukraine, where it is a full-out celebration. Happy International Women’s Day! (which makes a lot more sense than Mothers’ Day, if you think about it)

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    • I find it an interesting subject. In the UK Mother’s Day is closely linked to the Christian Festival of Mothering Sunday hence the association with Lent. I think that is why it retains precedence. Although it is declining children in UK still go to church with their mother on this day. Mother’s Day in USA and Canada is a secular rather than a religious festival.
      International Women’s Day is entirely secular and closely associated with communism and the contribution of women during two world wars. I felt privileged to be in Latvia on this day and experience a truly wonderful event!

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  6. What a truly marvelous blog. I’m thrilled I stumbled across it. I’ve been lost in it for the last 30 minutes. 🙂

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  7. I find that there are so many “days” to celebrate that they all run together and I don’t pay attention to any of them.

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  8. And here I though every other day was international men’s day😉. IWD is very big here in Canada and focuses on the equality of women at work… when we lived in a neighbourhood here with far more Russian immigrants the flower shops would sell out on March 8th!

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