Russia inherited several public holidays from the era of the Soviet Union. For example, Defender of the Fatherland Day (originally known as Red Army Day) is celebrated on February 23rd. In a broad sense, this holiday celebrates people who are serving or were serving the Russian Armed Forces. Due to a common Russian stereotype that the role of the defender is reserved for males, the holiday has more recently come to celebrate Russia's men as a whole. However, there is also a special day for women—International Women's Day—which is celebrated in the first month of spring on March 8th. One might compare March 8th in Russia with Mother's Day in the West, although the Russian holiday celebrates all women, including mothers, grandmothers, daughters, and girlfriends.
March 8th (восьмо́е ма́рта) is also known as the International Women's Day (Междунаро́дный же́нский день). This holiday emerged as a political celebration to symbolize the fight of women from all over the world for their rights, full equality with men, democracy and peace. As the time passed, the political motives of the holiday moved to the background and March 8th simply became a women's holiday in Russia and other republics of the former USSR.
March 8th is an official public holiday. This beautiful spring holiday is most often celebrated in the family circle with a festive meal and champagne. Another popular choice to celebrate March 8th is by visiting friends. Men and women give flowers, postcards with poetry, chocolate, and other pleasant gifts to their mothers, wives, grandmothers, sisters and daughters. Some Russian men like to undertake all household duties on this day—starting with washing dishes and ending with cooking dinner and looking after children, so that women can enjoy a full day of rest.
Since the International Women's Day is a non-working day in Russia, office workers celebrate it just the day before the holiday. In companies and organizations, all women receive flowers and small memorable gifts from their male co-workers and, sometimes, from employers themselves. During the lunch break, it is common to have a small office party with cake and a glass of champagne.
Popular Russian entertainers organize concerts and performances to create the festive mood on March 8th. The best singers and most talented actors perform on stage with songs and poems about love and beautiful women. However, very few Russians celebrate the holiday by going to concerts, theaters or movies. The traditional way to celebrate is at home among friends and family.
Although March 8th is a big holiday in Russia, some people choose not to celebrate it. This is especially common for older people who may not like extra hassle and spending money for presents. In fact, 14% of Russians did not plan to celebrate International Women’s Day in 2010 – the record number in the recent years.
Both men and women make presents to women they are close to. The gifts that Russians give on March 8th depend on many factors. A few things to consider are how closely you are related to a woman (whether she's your grandmother, mother, wife, or a girlfriend) and what kind of a gift you can afford financially.
Flowers are the most popular gift choice on March 8th. Yellow mimosas and roses are especially popular. Candy and chocolate are the next popular choice, followed by perfume and cosmetics. Some people like to give money or gift cards, so that women could pick the best present for themselves. The list goes on and other gift choices include jewelry, household appliances, kitchen utensils, cut glass and China, clothes, footwear, books, DVDs, and even cell phones and cameras. Tastes differ but the rule of thumb is to give something that will please the woman.
According to a recent poll, most Russians follow their own judgment about what a woman would like to get as a gift (33%). Many Russians also directly ask what a woman would like to receive as a gift (25%) or pick a present that they can afford financially (23%). Less frequently, Russian men and women prefer to give a standard gift, such as flowers, perfume or chocolate (14%). It’s even less common to give money (8%) or consult with friends and relatives in choosing a gift (8%). Only 2% of Russians find it acceptable to make presents that they received from somebody else before.
10% of Russians do not observe the tradition of giving gifts on March 8th. At the same time, Russian men are more inclined to ask women about the choice of a gift directly (28%) or consult with friends and relatives (20%). Russian women are more inclined to give other women standard gifts (25%).
In contemporary Russia, March 8th is first of all the day of warm feelings and excitement. One third of Russians think so, according to a poll conducted by the leading Russian sociological company VCIOM. Some Russians think of it as a tradition (16%) or an opportunity to make a pleasant surprise to women (15%). The holiday is viewed as just an extra day off by 14% of Russians, while 10% of Russians associate it with gifts and flowers. The International Women’s Day is a very special and important day for 7% of Russians, and only a few think of it as waste of money (2%).
Interestingly, Russian women often consider March 8th a day of pleasant emotions, high spirits, and vivid impressions. At the same time, Russian men find the holiday to be a good reason to please the fairer sex.
When Russians want to congratulate someone with March 8th they say on of the following phrases:
It’s not required to buy an expensive gift to show that you care about a person. Many women will be pleased to receive a postcard with a poem and a few words of congratulations. Even if you are away from your wife, mother, grandmother or sister, you can always send her a postcard or write an email. Here are some Russian poems that you can use on the occasion of March 8th.
- 1 -
Желаю счастья и любви.
Они дороже всех подарков.
И пусть все сбудутся мечты
В прекрасный день - 8 Марта!
- 2 -
Я тебя поздравляю, с праздником светлой Весны!
Радости, счастья желаю, сладкие видеть сны!
Пусть все невзгоды, ненастья, обходят тебя стороной!
Ведь это ж большое счастье, что встретились мы с тобой!
- 3 -
Пусть в этот день весенними лучами
Вам улыбнутся люди и цветы,
И пусть всегда идут по жизни с Вами
Любовь, здоровье, счастье и мечты!
- 4 -
С душистой веточкой сирени
Весна приходит в каждый дом,
От всей души Вас поздравляем
С Международным Женским днём!
For more March 8th poems in Russian, please visit www.pozdrav.ru
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TODAY'S STREET SIGN
Russian: Русская водка
English: Russian vodka