Today is International Women’s Day, a holiday honoring women that’s celebrated around the world. The United States, where ladies don’t get a day unless they’re moms, has never been firmly on the bandwagon.
International Women’s Day kicked off in Europe on March 19, 1911, to drum up support for the suffrage movement, and moved to March 8 in 1913.
A 1909 attempt to launch a similar holiday in the United States flopped, probably because the Socialist Party of America was behind it.
In 1917, Russian women chose March 8 to protest the deaths of more than 2 million Russian soldiers in World War I. Days later, the czar stepped down and the provisional government granted Russian women the right to vote.
Adopted by the United Nations in 1975, International Women’s Day is still a popular day for women’s rights protests and marches.
It’s also got a softer side: Gals get gifts, pampering and a day off work in many countries.
Maybe this list will convince the federal government — or Hallmark — that March 8 should be America’s next big thing.
• Flowers: Russian women insist on red roses, and Italians and Albanians prefer yellow mimosas. In the nation’s capital, florists see at least a little action. “Most of the clients that come in and buy flowers for that are usually the Europeans,” says Vicky Manalansan, who has worked at Nosegay Flower Shop in Washington for more than 25 years. “It’s not a big thing.” What sells best? “Mostly just anything small,” she says.
• Time off: In Russia, International Women’s Day is a public holiday. This year, Russians — including those working at the Russian Embassy in D.C. — will get Monday, March 10, off. In China, many women (but not men) get a free half-day. Since International Women’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, most white-collar American workers have the day off, too.
• Dinner: In Romania, single ladies gather for homemade meals. In Russia, progressive husbands do the cooking. In Washington, at least one restaurant is making March 8 special. Mari Vanna, a Russian eatery, plans to hand out free champagne and roses, as it did last year.
• Gifts: Romanian children use March 8 to honor their moms with trinkets and homemade crafts. In China, women’s bosses provide the gifts; movie tickets are common.
• Charity: India, Uganda, Bangladesh, Fiji, Cambodia and Rwanda are just a few of the nations that use International Women’s Day to promote women’s rights. Uganda, for instance, has the “Run for Safe Motherhood” marathon, the proceeds of which are donated to hospital maternity wards.