Why I Loved Women’s Day in Yaroslavl

March 10, 2012

International Women’s Day for women in Russia is a cross between Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and your birthday–if everyone you ran into knew it was your birthday. Going into it, I was a  little unsure of what to expect. There are a lot of cultural differences that make the 8th of March seem a little more socially acceptable in Russia than in the United States (for details on this, see Hillary’s post on Women’s Day and my post on Russian vs. American concepts of womanhood). However, I am happy to say as an American girl, that I have now experienced, appreciated, and adored this holiday!

My day started out with waking up before Galya and, for once, making her breakfast! I attempted to make it a breakfast in bed, but the sizzling eggs and running cat (No, I was not trying to cook the cat. She’s just energetic in the mornings) woke Galya up first. Fortunately, I’d already set the flowers, card, and gift I’d got for Galya the day before out on the kitchen table. We ended up sitting together and having a long, wonderful breakfast. I know Galya liked it because she was praising me with her highest compliments: “You’ll make such a wonderful wife someday! And then mother! And then grandmother! Look at you cooking!” Galya then gave me for my Women’s Day gift a beautiful green banya towel and a hand towel that says “8 March”.

From there, I went to go meet friends in town. We weren’t able to go the the banya as we’d planned (the women who work in the women’s banya naturally had the day off), but we went shopping at a store aptly named “Women’s World” and followed it up with lunch at a nearby cafe. At the cafe, we were presented with complimentary cake and a strong sparkling wine in honor of the holiday. Woohoo!

I went back to my apartment afterward to work with a student who I’m tutoring in English. She surprised me with a beautiful box of chocolates and I  had some California souvenirs ready for her. That was definitely one of my favorite lessons so far. My other students and male friends who I didn’t see that day all sent text and facebook messages wishing me a Happy Women’s Day. Thank you, guys!

That night, as I was on my way to meet friends, a complete stranger came up to me and gave me a flower, saying, “Happy Women’s Day!” I looked at the flower and it’s holder suspiciously and then hesitantly took it. “That’s all!” he said with a smile, and walked off. A Russian man has never surprised me more.

All of this, added to the fact that people were so much readier to smile than usual, made the day wonderful. I had been sad that Valentine’s Day really wasn’t very big here, but now I understand why. This holiday far outshone the American Valentine’s Day, at least in terms of random acts of kindness by friends and strangers alike. Almost everyone I ran into, from the woman collecting tickets on the bus to the people working in stores, wished me a “Happy Women’s Day,” and seemed genuinely pleased to hear the wish reciprocated.

And on that note: Hillary, I’m so with you. Let’s bring this holiday to America. *Hem hem* Nate, you’ll help us out, right?

‘Til next time!


2 Responses to “Why I Loved Women’s Day in Yaroslavl”

  1. salomon babayaro said

    The man with the flower, ’twas me ! 😉

  2. Rayecka said

    Am jealous! *Sigh,* if only I could’ve stayed another semester… Even though it originated in America, whenever I told people at Midd, I was met by either an overwhelming indifference to the fact, fierce feminism, or the happy response, “Oh cool, today is also International Proof Reading Appreciation Day!”

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