8 of March traditions

What do people do?

International Women’s Day is often celebrated among family or friends with a festive meal and drinks. Many women receive flowers, cards and other gifts on March 8. Many television programs pay tribute to achievements of famous Russian women from the past and the present.

Public life

International Women’s Day is a public holiday in Russia on March 8. Most banks, official buildings and educational institutions are closed on this day, although shops and kiosks usually stay open. Public transport may run less frequently than usual.

Background

Russian women first observed International Women’s Day on March 2, 1913. They held a demonstration in St Petersburg, which was then Russia’s capital, demanding the right to vote. On March 8, 1917 (February 23, 1917 of the then used Julian calendar), women organized another mass demonstration. Many historians believe this became the start of the Russian Revolution. The Russian Emperor Nicholas II stepped down from the throne four days after the demonstration, and the provisional government granted Russian women the right to vote.

International Women’s Day has been a national holiday in Russia since 1918. It became a non-labor day in 1965. International Women’s Day remained a public holiday in the Russia after the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Today it is a holiday to honor motherhood, beauty, and spring. International Women’s Day is also celebrated in other countries around the world.

Symbols

Spring flowers, especially tulips and lilies of the valley, and images of a mother with a child are the most common symbols of International Women’s Day in Russia. These symbols often appear on postcards that men traditionally give women on March 8.

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