Since Mother's Day is on May 9th, it seems appropriate to have a blog entry about a Russian holiday in honor of women.
International Women's Day (Международный женский день) is celebrated on March 8th to coincide with two major events in Russian history.
First was March 8th, 1857 when women marched to complain about being left out of a recent legal reform. Men had won the right to 10 hour work days while women were stuck working 16 hour work days. The march gained international press and sparked further debated about women's rights.
Second was March 8th, 1917 when women began campaigning for greater rights from the Provisional Government; part of the argument stemmed from how much of the war effort women were shouldering (working in factories, raising funds, making care packages for soldiers, etc.).
Back in 1913, legislation had been passed to create a day in honor of women, but no official date for the holiday had been selected. Saint Petersburg celebrated the first holiday in 1913, but March 8th did not become the official date for the holiday until 1963.
Now, the day is a day off work where men are expected to have a gift - flowers, candy, a card, or something else - for the important women in their lives. Men usually do tasks that are typically seen as feminine in Russia such as housework or cooking for the day.
Visit http://www.sras.org/russian_holidays for more information.