Between February 23 and March 8, Russians live to the rhythm of corporate meals, buying gifts, and other libations. Why are these dates so important?
February 23 is Men’s Day, and on March 8, it is Women’s Day. Or, more formally, February 23 is the “Day of the Fatherland Defenders”-День Защитника Отечества (Dyen Zashytnika Atiechestva), and March 8 is “International Women’s Day”-Международный женский день (Mezhdunarodnei Zhenskei Dyen). But what is the origin of these celebration days-праздничные дни (prazdnychnye dny), and why are these specific dates celebrated as two glorious days?
The “Day of Defenders of the Fatherland”was a typical Soviet – советский (sovietsky), celebration, and remained so in the independent Russia. Celebrated since February 23, 1918, it was declared a national holiday in 2002 by Vladimir Putin.
The origins of this celebration – празднование (prazdnavanie), are not really happy; in 1918, the Bolsheviks chose February 23 as the “Day of the Defenders of the Fatherland.” On this occasion, citizens had to offer clothing – одежды(adiezhdy), and hot meals to the poorest of the defenders of the revolution – революция (revolyutsia), dying of cold and hunger.
Since then, February 23 remained as a day dedicated to the glory – слава (slava), of soldiers, but above all, in the minds of ordinary people, a day dedicated to the celebration of men, like the day dedicated to the celebration of women, which we will discuss below .
On that day, it is customary – обычай (obytchay), for women to offer a small gift – подарочек (padarochek), to their fathers, brothers, husbands, and colleagues. Women offers gifts to all men, whether they actually defended the homeland or not. The most popular gifts year after year are socks – носки (nasky), and shampoo – шампунь (shampooni), or any other male cosmetics for showering and shaving. This is such a common gift that the unofficial name of this holiday is the “Shaving Foam Day” – день пены для бритья (dien Pieny dlia britia). Recently, some men have also started to become somewhat sneaky by buying themselves something to shave with before the approach of the end of February, trying to make their wives think of new gifts to give their men!
Regardless, in Russia, there is a joke – шутка (shootka), saying that women do not fail to give gifts to men on February 23 because women know that their gifts will be returned in kind on March 8. Women know that they will receive chocolates – шоколадные конфеты (chocoladnye kanfiety), perfume – духи (doukhy), or be invited to a restaurant – пригласить в ресторан (priglasit v restoran) for a special dinner.
Or why not a poem – поема (poema)?
С днем 8 марта!
Happy March 8!
И пусть этот день в лучах сияя,
On that sunny day, may
В жизнь воплотит твои мечты,
your dreams come true.
Я искренне тебе желаю
I sincerely wish you
Цветов, любви и красоты!
flowers, love, and beauty!
The Day of the Woman celebration has its origins in the European socialist revolutionary movements of the early twentieth century. The insurgents of the time included ordinary women, workers – работницы (rabotnitsy), mothers, and women soldiers, and the French and the Russians saw that women’s rights – правы (pravy), were ignored. The first day of the woman marked the beginning of a long struggle for equality – равноправие (ravnopravie), and peace – мир (mir). In Russia, on March 8, 1921, Lenin proclaimed March 8 as the Day of Women’s Rights (in 1977, the UN encouraged all countries to celebrate that day).
Over time, this day has taken a more festive twist to become the “Women’s Day” – праздник женщин (praznik zhenshin). And on that day, men offer gifts – подарок (padarok), or at least flowers, to all women, whether mothers, sisters, wives, or daughters. That day, in fact, a small bouquet of flowers – букетцветов (bouket tsvietov), is welcome, and given as a standard practice; it is a tradition – традиция (traditsia).
It should be noted that March 8 is also the spring festival – праздник весны (prazdnik viessny). This explains the preference of spring flowers given on that day – весенние цветы (viessienie tsviety). The giving of мимоза (mimosa), seems entirely appropriate. Prized for its scent – запах (zapakh), mimosa is also the symbol of the spring festival in Russia.
The Women’s Day in Russia is no longer a day of the fight to recognize the rights of women, it is a party – праздник (prazdnik). And to celebrate it – праздновать (prazdnovati), women working in the Department of Defense (there are nearly 40,000 women in Russia’s armed forces) organized a beauty contest – конкурс красоты (concourse krassaty), during their special day, just to remember they are, above all, women.
It should not be forgotten that March 8 is a day to acknowledge women’s rights and courage- храбрость (khrabrosti). So if lingerie – тонькое бельё (tonkoye bilyo), flowers, and diamonds – алмаз (almaz) are too traditional – старомодный (staromodny) or too classic, the celebration should include an element to surprise – удивить (Udiviti) her, because, as Aristotle wrote, “the surprise is the test of true courage” – “удивление – испытание настоящего мужества” (Udivlienie – ispytanie nastayashcheva muzhestva).
So take a trip to the Museum of Cosmonauts – Мемориальный Музей Космонавтики (Memorialny Muzey Kosmonavtiki) at the VNDKh Metro station to honor, among others, ValentinaTerechkova – Валентина Терешкова), the first female cosmonaut in the world, – первая в мире женщина космонавт (pervaya v mirie zhenshina kosmonavt).