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Festa della Donna – Italy

March 8th is now celebrated as International woman’s day all over the world. This day is meant for giving women enough confidence to carry on with their fight against discrimination, which still exists in some parts of the world. It emphasizes women’s right to have equal rights with men.

In Italy this day has been declared as a public holiday. It is called “Festa della Donna”. Myriads of activities and celebrations take place all over Italy on March 8th. Even if the status of women is not really low in Italy, on March 8th women enthusiastically gather together conducting various functions to celebrate their achievements in various fields. This is a day for upholding their social, economic and political triumphs.

Many all-women parties and celebrations like the all-women midnight parties, mark this occasion all over Italy. At present the day has acquired a lighter spirit like the other popular days like Mother’s day, Father’s Day etc. Its origin has a very serious political relevance as far as women are concerned.

There were two significant events that had taken place in two different continents, one in the middle of the 19th century and the other in the first half of the 20th century. On March 8th, 1857, there was a women’s revolt in a garment factory in New York that attracted the attention of the world. As a result, two years later, a women’s union was formed in United States for the first time.

On March 8th, 1917, there was another significant women’s strike in Russia following the Russian revolution. They demanded ‘peace and bread’. There two women’s rebellions became the basis of the present celebration. In Italy the women’s day was declared as early as 1922, but it was not until the end of the Second World War, that the Union of Italian women decided to declare March 8th as the countrywide women’s day. Thereafter it gained momentum and popularity.

It was in Italy that the beautiful custom of presenting women with the bouquets of yellow mimosa originated. It is said to have started in 1946. The reason for this particular flowers being presented is not known for sure; but most probably, because it is because they are almost the first flowers to appear after the winter.
These spectacular bunches of tiny globular yellow flowers that appear in the beginning of March, ushering in spring season, now symbolize the love and respect showered on women by the men folk around them. They may be acquaintances, friends, colleagues, relatives or spouses. It has become the mark of respect and consideration for women in Italy. If the mimosa flowers are not available, yellow roses or other equally fabulous yellow flowers take their place.

The women’s day is celebrated to stress on the necessity of giving women equal status with men. It is observed to remind the world of various atrocities suffered by women at various stages of history and also their ability to endure these and to triumph over all the adversities to reach the present status.

by Marina Chernyak


Marina Chernyak
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