Women’s Day – Festa della Donna, March 8

International Women’s Day — Giornata della Donna or Festa della Donna in Italian — is celebrated every year in March 8.

The festival originated in the early twentieth century as a means to promote awareness of universal suffrage. To this day, it reminds us of an era when women were denied the rights enjoyed by men. And it celebrates the contributions of women everywhere to the betterment of the world.

In Italy, the custom of giving women a mimosa flower on Women’s Day began in 1946, the year after the Second World War ended — a tradition unique to Italy.

While it may seem insignificant today, the gesture had powerful meaning in the years following the war. Italy had been devastated by the conflict, left in ruins by the retreating Nazis who had occupied Italy since 1943 when the Allies landed in the south. It was a time when even the wealthy knew the pangs of hunger.

At the time, the beautiful mimosa — which blossoms in its rich yellow at the beginning of March — brought a glimmer of joy and hope to Italians — men and women alike.

To this day, March 8 is celebrated by the exchange of the mimosa.

From the Wikipedia entry for Women’s Day (March 8):

International Women’s Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day, is marked on March 8 every year. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political and social achievements. Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarily Eastern EuropeRussia, and the former Soviet bloc. In many regions, the day lost its political flavour, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and St Valentine’s Day. In other regions, however, the original political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.

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