Communist International Women’s Day

I know I’m a day late and a dollar short when it comes to the topic of this post, but in my family if you put the word communist in front of a holiday that means you can celebrate it whenever you want. And when you think about it shouldn’t every day be International Women’s Day?

Until last night, my main associations with the day were very Nicholas Kristof. I thought it was a modern invention, like World Pneumonia Day, World Aids Day, etc, designed to raise awareness, guilt, gratitude, and donations. My alternate association was annoying emails and blog posts telling me to “embrace my womanhood and take off my make up” or “let myself get angry”. But after a quick trip to Wikipedia I discovered a richer history with multiple meaning. Here’s what I learned: 

  1. The day was first celebrated in the United States in 1901, as National Woman’s Day (notice the singular). It was adopted by several European countries in 1911 to promote equal rights and women’s suffrage. Lenin was the first to make it a national holiday.
  2. The holiday has pretty red roots. Which works perfectly with the title of this blog post. It was started by the Socialist Party of America, and amplified by the countries behind the iron curtain. China started celebrating it in 1922 and Spanish communists caught on in 1936. In fact, the name used to be International Working Women’s Day.
  3. Not to be outdone by the communists, the UN designated 1975 as International Women’s Year.
  4. Different regions celebrated the day in different ways. Some countries harken back to the holidays socialist beginnings other treat it more like a combination of Mother’s day and Valentines.
  5. In Portugal, women celebrate with women only dinner party. Basically a Galentines Day. (Shameless borrow forms Parks and Rec).
  6. In Nepal, it is a national holiday, but only for women. Which is kind of the opposite of a day for working women…
  7. In a town in the UK, the tower hamlets council closed one of its libraries to all men, even banning male staff from the premises. I’m not sure I understand the benefit of a male free library. I suggest next year they take a page out of Nepal’s book and give women the day off work instead.

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