International women’s day is celebrated on March 8th every year. It is the day that many of us know as a day when women are celebrated and recognized. But what is the story behind this day, why is it so important and how can you celebrate it this year?
One reason why this day is so important, is not only the celebration of women as we know it today. In fact, it is closely connected to the history of labour movements and women’s rights.
The first movement related to this day started in the United States in 1848, when a women’s right convention took place, where a few hundred women demanded social, political, religious and civil rights. The first National Women’s Day was also held in the US, more precisely in New York on February 28,1909. It started as The Socialist Party of America reacted to garment workers’ protest regarding their working conditions. There are still many countries in the world today, where women do not have equal rights to men, however, most western countries have surely come a long way from where they were in 1909.
In 1910 it was Europe’s turn as International Women’s Day was established in Copenhagen to support the movements for women’s rights and in 1911 this day was celebrated already in several countries across Europe and in the United States. In 1913, this day became one of the means of peace movement and a mechanism for protesting the war. Russian women held their first International Women’s day at the end of February, which would fall on March 8 according to the Gregorian calendar. Across Europe, rallies were held around or on March 8 to protest war and express solidarity. In 1917 Russian women again protested and held a strike, known as for “Bread and Peace” which resulted in women gaining the right to vote. This is one of the main reasons why we celebrate this day on March 8 today.
So, we can clearly see why International Women’s Day is so important and how closely it is tied to labour movements and women’s rights in many countries. These days we might celebrate Women’s Day in a more commercial way compared to going on strikes and protests, but the fact that it is still celebrated in many countries is proof that women are recognized more than ever in history and we have not forgotten the importance of this day.
Women’s Day might not be the first day that comes to mind when thinking about shopping and big sales. Surely, it cannot compete with Black Friday, when a lot of companies make their monthly revenue in just a single weekend. But it is certainly a good day for all flower and chocolate sellers, who actually can make their monthly sales in a single day as flowers have been a traditional women’s day gift for decades.
Gifting flowers on this day is especially huge in some countries, for example in Russia, where the importance of this day remains to be significant today. According to the New York Times, flower shops in Russia sell around 150 000 flowers on March 8 as it is customary there to gift flowers to your wife, mother, sister, or even female co-workers. Considering the Netherlands exports around 120 million euros’ worth of flowers to Russian yearly, the March 8 holiday accounts for around 10 per cent of the total annual sales. Flowers might not be as important on this day in some other countries, but it is certain, that flower shops are having a good day on March 8 everywhere.
With the world in lockdown and International Women’s Day coming up, one might wonder, what would be the best way to celebrate this day and show that you care about the woman in your life without going on a women’s day strike or protest. There are certainly many options how this day can be celebrated, even in lockdown.
The first way would be the above-mentioned flowers. If you want to show the special woman in your life that you care about them, then flowers are a good way to do so. They are not as costly as expensive presents, but more importantly, are widely available in many shops, even if life is on pause in lockdown. If you are feeling especially romantic, then add a nice box of chocolates and a card to go with it.
Another way would be to go out to a restaurant. However, if you are concerned about catching a particular virus or if restaurants are closed in your area, then you could cook dinner at home. A romantic home-made dinner is a thoughtful way how to show that you care about someone. It is a good idea to light some candles to create a more relaxed mood, just do not forget about dessert.
If, however, you wish to opt for a more luxurious and expensive present, then there are many things you could gift on this day. Jewellery, perfumes, and accessories are all great gifts if you know their taste in these items. If not, then a gift card to their favourite store is a safe way to go. Even if you are in quarantine, then by shopping online several days ahead, you could still order the present to be delivered in time. But if shopping for presents is not for you and you wish to celebrate it without spending anything, then a kiss and a hug are a gift that you can give for free.
It is clear why this day is so important. It started as a movement to support women’s rights, which has resulted in many positive changes in countries around the world. These days we might celebrate women’s day in a different way that it was done more than a century ago, but it is important to remember why it all started and to show the women in your life that you do, in fact, appreciate them.