Chris's Birthday Gifts, minus the Kindle on Its Way...
March 8th is Chris's birthday... but it's not the best day for a guy to celebrate in Russia. Why? Because it's also "International Women's Day," a holiday when you're expected to give gifts to pretty much all the women in your life! (I'm sure he has to endure quite a bit of ribbing from his co-workers about it, too).
I remember how surprised some Russian friends have been over the years to learn that it wasn't quite as "international" as they had thought -- that we'd never even heard of it in America. It's basically the cultural equivalent of Mothers' Day and Valentine's Day, but you honor ALL women, not just moms or your sweetheart.
As for me, being here on March 8th, getting "congratulated" by pretty much everyone you see, gives me an idea of what Russians feel like on December 25th. Our Christmas is NOT a holiday to them, and they go about their lives, working, etc., oblivious. It feels a bit like that to be an American woman here today.
Not everyone is so enthusiastic about the holiday, however, since it was thought up by Socialists to unite women of the world in a political context. For example, I called our landlady today to make sure I didn't commit a faux pas by not thinking of her -- and while she was happy to hear from me, she made it clear that she does NOT consider it a holiday.
Expat men tend to hate the holiday, since it comes right after Valentine's Day, and you're suppsosed to give gifts to all the women in the office... It can be a saving grace to some men, though... If you didn't do too much for Valentine's, you have a chance to make up for it!
Chris gave me and the girls pretty flowers on both holidays this year. Aren't they lovely?
I love the purple clamatis (sp?) in my bouquet.
Talia found a cute bee hidden in hers...
... and Katya found a butterfly.
Katya's friend gave her this basket. The pretty multi-colored vase was made for us by some of the orphans who take art classes at the Maria's Children studio.
There are balloons all over the city, decorating restaurants and stores (since most people go out to eat for the holiday). Flowers, perfume and chocolates are traditional gifts; my students gave me some of each category. Nice!
Here's a store front with a typical poster.