Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy March 8th!

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.


Tina in CT said...

All the bouquets and the basket are so pretty. I just love the yellow bee. It looks wooden. The girls can save the butterfly and bee to use in other flower arrangements in the future. I'm sure the girls and Chris will also enjoy the chocolates that you received from your students.

How sweet of Katya's friend to give her the basket. I imagine it was from Paulina since her mother has the floral business.

Yes, I imagine Chris does get ribbing at work since his birthday is on International Women's Day.

Tina in CT said...

You didn't have my gift in the picture or my dog birthday card.

The Expatresse said...

Actually, it started in the USA. According to Wikipedia: The first IWD was observed on 28 February 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. Among other relevant historic events, it came to commemorate the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

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avagdro said...

Thanks MoscowMom,pretty cute kiddos besides the flowers crafts collections.Have a tremendous joyful Mom's day ahead.

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Annie said...

I just think it is a LOVELY holiday! I celebrated by taking Nastya out for banana cream pie and coffee (for me) but it is SO much nicer a holiday than Mother's Day, since for all kinds of reasons Mother's Day can make a lot of women so sad.

Have to say, knowing the cheer and charm of the way the Russians actually celebrate it, it was oddly annoying to hear the American "tip of the hat" to the day - as usual, an interview with some NOW representative sounding as serious, dreary and unappealing as any humorless Russian at his or her worst. A bit of turnabout.

katbat said...

I am interested to hear how he likes the kindle!happy late birthday to chris!