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International Women's Day

International Women's Day 2018 and 2019

When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, several holidays remained in Russia that were part of the Soviet Union’s calendar. One of these holidays, Women’s Day, is similar to Mother’s Day in the United States, although it celebrates all women, including daughters and girlfriends. The holiday is celebrated on March 8 each year.

YearDateDayHoliday
20188 MarThuInternational Women's Day
9 MarFriInternational Women's Day Holiday
20198 MarFriInternational Women's Day
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History of the Holiday

International Women’s Day began as a political celebration designed to recognise women’s fight for their own rights around the world. The holiday was originally celebrated globally, focusing on full equality with men, peace and democracy. However, the holiday eventually lost attention in other parts of the world, but becoming a holiday in republics of the former Soviet Union. It included state ceremonies that promoted the government’s achievements in improving women’s status in the workplace. After the fall of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, some republics stopped celebrating the holiday officially due to its negative association with communism, but it is still unofficially celebrated in most of those countries.

Traditions and Celebrations

On International Women’s Day, families gather to share meals and there is often champagne to toast the contribution of women in Russian society. Flowers, postcards with poetry, chocolate and other gifts are given to women. Many Russian men take over household duties throughout the day, such as washing dishes, preparing meals and looking after children in order to give women a day of rest. Offices and businesses are closed, although some companies give flowers or small gifts to female employees just before the holiday. It is not uncommon for businesses to have a luncheon that includes champagne. There may also be concerts or live performances throughout Russia in celebration of women. On the Moscow subway system, congratulatory messages are broadcast throughout the day.

Contemporary Russia

Modern Russia has mixed feelings about the meaning of the holiday. Approximately 33 percent of Russians look at International Women’s Day as a day of warm feelings and excitement while 16 percent consider it a tradition and 15 percent look at it as a way to recognise the contributions of women to society. Some still view the holiday as a remnant of communism. Although the holiday began as a feminist and political holiday, it has lost much of those overtones over the years. Instead, more residents view the holiday as a way to perform chivalrous acts.