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A relic of the Soviet era, Women’s Day in Russia has lost its political meaning over the years. Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day rolled into one, this holiday is not just a way for men to celebrate women of all ages, but also the first spring holiday and a day of love, flowers and compliments. We’ve put together a list of do’s and don’t’s that’ll help you celebrate the women in your life the right way.
According to Russian poet Nikolai Nekrasov, an average Russian woman “can stop a galloping horse, enter a house on fire.” On March 8 she does none of that, it’s the men’s turn. From shopping for food to cleaning up and making breakfast in bed, boyfriends, husbands, fathers, brothers and children do all the work on this day. It’s a public holiday, and very few people go to work. So an average Russian will probably be cleaning the kitchen, while his wife is enjoying her chocolate wrap at a spa.
Every woman in Russia enjoys receiving flowers on March 8. Tulips are the most common, and the type of flower women are most likely to get from male coworkers on Women’s Day. Be sure to give an odd number of flowers, since in Russia an even number of flowers are only for funerals. Also stay away from yellow (except for popular mimosa) especially when giving flowers to a superstitious girlfriend, as she might read it as a sign of an upcoming breakup.
Shortly before March 8, a wave of male shoppers hits Russian stores. They are buying gifts for all the important women in their lives. Unlike on Men’s Day in Russia, gifts to women on March 8 are obligatory. From traditional flowers and chocolate, to surprise weekend vacations – women wait to get their gifts with nervous anticipation. Research says, Russian women are not very happy to get bath gift baskets, perfume or kitchen appliances, but are much more eager to receive hand-made chocolate, spa certificates or a fancy new phone.
C is for compliments, and Russian women expect to hear a lot of those. Some men choose to write their good wishes in a greeting card (this is the most common for school peers and coworkers). If complements are not something you’re good at, being nice to all the women you meet on this day is not a bad place to start.
Making this day cooking free for women is the responsibility of every man. If you don’t feel like making a celebratory dinner by yourself, be sure to book a table at a restaurant, but remember, that you’re probably not the only one planning a dinner out.
If you’re not living on a deserted island with no women around, there should be at least one person you’ll have to buy flowers for. Forgetting about this holiday altogether is considered highly impolite, so you’d better get that box of chocolates.
Saying something unkind to a woman on this day is a mortal sin: be it a shop assistant, a female coworker, a friend or your wife. This day is all about women and by being impolite you’ll run the risk of being ostracized by society.
As has already been said, Russians do take this holiday pretty seriously, so don’t even think you can easily buy a gift on March 7 – the lines will be huge. Don’t rely on delivery from online stores, the traffic gets so bad before the holiday, some shops just stop delivering orders altogether.
No matter how much you’d like to see that football game or how badly you want to hang out with your friends, on this day it is just out of the question. Even if you don’t have a girlfriend or a wife, you’ll still have to drop by your mom’s place to give her obligatory flowers and a peck on a cheek.
So you’ve done it all right, with breakfast, flowers and gifts, but had one drink too many at a celebratory dinner? Huge mistake, now you’re left with no brownie points. Keep it under control, you won’t have to do this again for another year.