DAY AFTER TOMORROW not only Russia, but the whole world will celebrate International Women’s Day. The celebration of March 8 in modern Russia is associated primarily with the extra days off and mandatory flowers and gifts for women, while the original political and social meanings of the date are almost ignored. However, it was not always the case. We understand how International Women’s Day appeared, why today, March 8, is perceived differently than a hundred years ago, and how it can be noted.
Was March 8 always a "women’s holiday"?
Yes and no. Two main gender-outlined holiday went to modern Russia from Soviet times. February 23 and March 8 were not as unambiguous at the time of their occurrence. 23 invented the number to celebrate in 1922 as the Day of the Red Army and Navy, over time, the name changed twice, and the ones that marked quite deviated from the point. Instead of honoring the soldiers, February 23 gradually turned into a day of singing all men and the idea of masculinity. A similar fate, and March 8. Invented as a symbol of the struggle for gender equality and respect for women’s work, the holiday was only a reason to give a woman a gift once again a year, except for her birthday. In modern folklore, the essence of International Women’s Day was fully expressed by the phrase “be quiet, woman, your day is March 8” (3 million results in the search for Yandex), and the most popular joke on VKontakte about the holiday is, for example, this video.
How did International Women’s Day come about?
The date was invented by the socialist movement. In February 1909, women in New York took to the streets demanding equal pay and giving women the right to vote – it’s amazing that a century later the question of wages remains open. German socialists and the notorious communist Clara Zetkin for a couple with Rosa Luxemburg next year at the Women’s Conference agreed that a holiday was needed that would promote equal rights for women, including suffragistic ideas.
Russia celebrated the celebration in 1913. Women’s day was not at all so peaceful as it is now, but was accompanied by meetings and demonstrations. Thus, on February 23, 1917, the old style (that is, March 8, the new), the textile workers’ strike and the subsequent organized march demanding equal rights for women became one of the triggers to a further wave of protests that led to the February Revolution. Coinciding with a date with one of the most important turning points in the history of Russia, the holiday as a tradition became stronger in the USSR. Until about the 70s, March 8 was primarily associated with the participants of the revolution and their successful struggle for the independence of women. One way or another, the history of the holiday in the West and in Russia testifies that first of all it was invented as a tool for emancipating and popularizing respect for women.
Why is it customary in Russia to give presents on this day and not to strike for equal pay?
History is silent about when and why the current candy-bouquet tradition of celebrating March 8 came to replace the processions and demonstrations. Some authors believe that the conscious and consistent policy of the Soviet leadership has become to blame. Already in the 1930s, the much-needed women’s departments engaged in agitation, education, assistance and the struggle for the rights of women were abolished. Thus, women have lost a social elevator, and not reached new heights in equality. Subsequent women’s organizations were largely nominal. Gradually, the revolutionary theme disappeared even from the cards, and the accents shifted to the chanting of female beauty and motherhood, making the holiday look more like Mother’s Day in other countries.
In 1966, under Brezhnev, March 8 became a day off, so the active idea of the date finally disappeared. Today, the holiday has finally turned into a day of following stereotypes about women. This is noticeable in the traditional gifts, and the description of the International Women’s Day in the Russian-language Internet. According to Levada Center, in Russia the most popular
Gifts for March 8 are flowers and sweets, as well as perfumes and cosmetics. According to VTsIOM, only 5% associate the holiday with emancipation. On the one hand, this survey shows a positive trend in relation to equality – the number of people who believe that women deserve the same privileges as men increased