March 8th – International Women’s day

Every year on March 8 Russians celebrate International Women’s day. On this day, men try to pay attention to every important woman in his life: mother, sister, grandmother, beloved ones, as well as female colleagues. They give gifts, mostly flowers, and say compliments.

Since after the October revolution of 1917, this holiday has been celebrated mainly in socialist countries. The Chinese Communists celebrated it since 1922, and by Spanish Communists from 1936. Republic of China (founded on October 1, 1949) proclaimed that Chinese women work a half of a day on March 8th.


I have to admit that initially this holiday appeared not as a day of honoring the “fair sex”, but as a day of revolutionary women.

On March 8, 1857 women working at clothing and textile factories in New York, USA, took part in a protest. They fought against inhumane working conditions and low wages.  Two years later, again in March, these women formed their first trade Union to try to defend themselves and enforce some basic rights in the workplace.

On 8 March 1908, 15,000 women held a demonstration in the city of New York, demanding shorter working days, better conditions of payment, rights to participate in elections and the elimination of child labor.  In May, the Socialist party of America declared the last Sunday of February the National Women’s day.

According to the Socialist party of America statement, the first-ever National Women’s day was celebrated in the United States on February 28, 1909. Women continued to celebrate this holiday on the last Sunday of this month until 1913.

In Europe, the first International Women’s day was held on March 19, 1911 in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, Holland. The date was chosen for a reason: on this day in 1848, the King of Prussia, facing the threat of an armed uprising, made a promise to carry out reforms, including the introduction of voting rights for women.

But in 1912 this day was celebrated not on March 19, but on May 12. In 1913 Germany celebrated that day on March 12th;  Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Switzerland, the Netherlands – on March 9th, France – on March 2nd.

In Russia

In Russia, the first celebration of International Women’s day took place on the last Sunday of February 1913.

In 1917, the Petrograd Bolsheviks used the celebration of International Women’s day to organize rallies and gatherings against the war, the high cost and the plight of female workers. Rallies held on February 23, 1917 (March 8, Gregorian calendar) marked the beginning of the February revolution, which resulted in the overthrow of the Monarchy.

In 1921 the 2nd Communist Women’s Conference decided to celebrate International Women’s day on 8 March in memory of women’s participation in the Petrograd demonstration on 23 February (8 March) 1917. 

Since 1966, the International Women’s day in Russia has become a non-working day and even got its own festive ritual. On this day, the state reported to the society on the implementation of the state policy towards women, and woman-the foremost of production were awarded with prizes. The goal was to turn the Soviet people away from religious holidays: Maslenitsa which falling at about the same time.

The modern celebration of Women’s day no longer has the goal of affirming equality, but is considered the day of spring, female beauty, tenderness, spiritual wisdom and attention to all women on Earth, regardless of their age and position in society.


Postcard to the day of March 8

Author: Elena

Hi, My name is Elena. I am Russian living in the US. My blog is about my life and experience. This is my new hobby. So, please, don't be too hard on me. Thanks

4 thoughts on “March 8th – International Women’s day”

  1. Elena, thank you for sharing this great history about National Women’s Day! I will certainly be celebrating all the beautiful and amazing women in my life on this day and every day.

  2. I have read your article carefully and I agree with you very much. This has provided a great help for my thesis writing, and I will seriously improve it. However, I don’t know much about a certain place. Can you help me?

    1. Hey, sorry, your comment went to spam. I didn’t see it. I am happy to help, but what you mean under “certain place”? I lived in Russia.

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