March 8th is International Women’s Day, a day for us all to acknowledge and celebrate the women, young and old, in our lives. This year, 2010, is the 99th year that International Women’s Day has been marked, celebrating the achievements of women, in all areas of life, political, social and economic. From relatively humble beginnings in early 20th Century Central Europe, intended to bring to public attention the poor working conditions and economic situations in which many women lived, International Women’s Day has lost much of its political focus and become a global celebration of women.
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It’s a holiday that hasn’t particularly caught on in the United States, and that’s a pity. It is an official and public holiday in many countries around the world, including Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Croatia, Cuba, Eritrea, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lithuania, Madagascar, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. Phew. In many other countries it is not an official public holiday, but widely acknowledged anyways. In some countries this day is an equivalent of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers. The day itself is not well-known in the United States, even though the entire month of March is designated ‘Woman’s History Month.’
By tradition, International Women’s Day sees men honoring the women in their lives — their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc — with flowers and small gifts. In several countries, the flower given is yellow mimosas (flowers and tip shoots of Acacia dealbata.) So take time this Women’s Day to send love to your sweetheart, gratitude to your female relatives, and warm wishes to your female friends. You’ll brighten their day and make it into something special. And that – let’s be honest here – is a gift you can give to yourself, isn’t it?