What’s going on in Russia on March 8th?

Babbel’s Russian course editor Lars shares his insight into traditional celebrations in Russia and the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.
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What’s going on in Russia on March 8th?

Lars works as a Russian course editor for Babbel. Having lived half of his life in Russia and half of his life in Germany, he understands and appreciates the endearing idiosyncracies of both cultures. Here, he gives us an insight into one of the many traditional celebrations in Russia.


What’s happening today in Russia? No matter where you look — Kaliningrad, Irkutsk or Vladivostok — all of Russia is covered in flowers! The women look even prettier than usual (is that even possible?), and the florists are overcrowded with men. For this important day, we, the Russian team at Babbel, have devoted a separate “International Women’s Day” lesson. In this lesson you will not only learn useful vocabulary, you will also discover some insider tips regarding do’s and don’ts on this culturally significant day.

March 8th is International Women’s Day, in Russian Международный женский день (Mezhdunarodnyj zhenskij den’), which has been celebrated in Russia since 1921. The original idea behind the celebration was to focus attention on women’s rights and the emancipation movement. Since 1967, March 8th has been recognized as an official public holiday. Therefore, in four years we will celebrate its 100th anniversary! It is no wonder that this day has become a national tradition.

Language skills alone are not always enough when it comes to understanding a foreign culture’s codes and traditions. To avoid putting one’s foot in one’s mouth, it is very important to have cultural know-how. Imagine you are studying in Russia and can speak Russian quite well. One day, in this case March 8th, you declare your love to a Russian girl and give her a bouquet of yellow roses (or, even better, you give her an even number of roses). You can be assured that you will never see this woman again. You will find out why in our lesson.
As a Russian, I personally needed some years to adapt to German traditions and way of thinking; that is why I know how important it is to be able to correctly interpret cultural characteristics.

There is no limit to the extent of worship women are shown on March 8th. Everyone celebrates the fact that women are women, regardless of age and social status. It is not like in Germany where mothers are only congratulated on Mother’s Day. But rather, Russian women are celebrated several times for different reasons: by their children as a mother, by their husbands as a wife, by male colleagues as a female colleague. On this day, for example, a woman teacher is given a gift of flowers and chocolates by her students.

Although Mother’s Day does exist in Russia, introduced only in 1998, this day cannot compete with the now traditional special day for all women on March 8th.

On this day, everyone makes sure that women have a really nice day and that they do not have to work. For example, the man in the family looks after the woman’s responsibilities and tasks.

At universities and schools it has become an essential tradition that the guys raise money beforehand and give every fellow female student a flower and/or a small present. Male students studying in the philology department often have bad luck: they are often significantly outnumbered by the female students.

All in all, Women’s Day is a very special event in Russia. On this day, even if there are freezing temperatures and the roads are covered in snow, the sun shines all over Russia thanks to the rays of positive energy the women give off. It’s just a pity that not every day is March 8th.

С Восьмым марта, дорогие женщины!
(S Vos’mym marta, dorogiye zhenshchiny!)
All the best on March 8th ladies!

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