Yesterday, March 8th, was International Women’s Day (IWD). All over Italy, men woke up and immediately contacted the females in their lives – mothers, wives, friends – to wish them a Buona Festa della Donna. During the day they would also present to those closest to them flowers, specifically the yellow mimosa, the Socialist-supported official symbol of Italy’s Women’s Day.
Yes. Socialist supported.
The stories of the origins of IWD range from ancient Roman myths to modern tales of martyrdom, but the most consistent one points to a declaration made by the Socialist Party in 1909 in the United States, after which the national event was held. Quickly picked up the year after by the Danes, it was adopted the year after that by the Germans who decided to establish it as an annual, international day of civil awareness.
Awareness for what? You wouldn’t know it from the marketing it receives today but IWD was first held, and consequently established, largely as a political act promoting equal rights and suffrage for women as well as protesting sex discrimination. Presently, it is most prevalent everywhere but North America, and is observed as respectfully as Mother’s Day and as diligently as Valentine’s Day but without as much product marketing.
This however doesn’t stop the purchasing of chocolates, candy or flowers for what is now an occasion, and it didn’t stop my roommate/house owner from getting me a goody-bag filled with candy and a stuffed animal, making me a delicious dinner complete with champagne, and presenting me with a twig of yellow mimosas to call my own. And it was wonderful, this seemingly out-of-nowhere occasion to be adored: why not?
But I couldn’t help but wonder, is this what we were fighting for all those years ago?