She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleam’d upon my sight;
A lovely apparition, sent
To be a moment’s ornament;
Her eyes as stars of twilight fair;
Like twilight’s, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful dawn;
A dancing shape, an image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and waylay.
Can you imagine our world without women? Some people may say they can, but let’s face the truth: that they can’t. Women make this world a better place with their warmth and care, they are a synonym to beauty and charm. What would humanity do if women did not exist? Fortunately, they do, and with International Women’s Day just around the corner, it is a good time to recall where this national holiday comes from.
There are several versions that explain how this holiday was established. We collected the most popular of them and want to share them with you. We must warn: some might be unexpected.
The first one is official and dates back to the Soviet times. It says that International Women’s Day is associated with “the march of empty pans”, which took place on March 8, 1857, in New York. At that time, women who worked in textile plants protested against poor labor conditions and low wages. They started an uprising beating pans and demanding to be given a 10-hour workdays instead of a 16-hour one, equal wages with men and the right to vote. Therefore, the purpose of International Women’s Day was to bring attention to the social, political, economic and cultural issues that women faced, and to protect their rights and interests.
Although the USSR actively supported this theory, researches show this story might be a myth. Surprisingly, there was not a single article about the alleged strike in the press at the time. Moreover, historians have found out that March 8, 1857, was a Sunday – it is very doubtful workers would raise a riot on a day-off.
The same version says about the famous German Communist Clara Zetkin. She is supposed to be the woman who initiated the holiday. In 1910, at the International Socialist Women’s Conference in Copenhagen, Clara Zetkin and her fellow socialist Luise Zietz proposed the establishment of an annual Women’s Day. They regarded it as the day when women could organize rallies and demonstrations.
In Soviet Russia, women gained suffrage in 1917, and since then March 8 became a national holiday but it remained a working day until 1965. After its official adoption in USSR (following the Revolution in 1917), the holiday was predominantly celebrated in communist countries.
In 1967 International Women’s Day was taken up by feminists. Women arranged unions and started a struggle for equal pay, equal economic opportunities, legal rights, reproductive rights, the right to hold public services and others.
The second version has Jewish roots. Some researchers believe that Clara Zetkin was born in the family of a Jewish shoemaker, and thus she associated March 8 with the Jewish holiday of Purim. Some even claim that March 8 is her birthday and, therefore, she wanted to input this day in the history of mankind. However, according to documents, she was born on July 5.
The third version of the origin of the holiday is the most scandalous. It says that in 1857, in New York, women did protest but they were not workers, but ladies belonged to the world’s oldest profession. They organized a rally and demanded to be paid for services rendered to seamen. Later, in 1894, another demonstration took place in Paris. This time women appealed for recognition of their rights on an equal basis with workers in the service sector, and for the establishment of trade unions.
Now March 8 is mostly turned into a celebration of spring and attention to the representatives of the fair sex. On this day, a lot of flowers appear on the streets and in homes, and men please their beloved women with gifts and care and see them glow with happiness.
Sometimes it is difficult to discern truth from falsehood, and even now more and more theories regarding the origin of International Women’s Day emerge. Today International Women’s Day is a great chance to once again express gratitude, love and respect to each and every woman in one’s life, be it in the professional or the personal life.
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Author: Regina Muzalevskaya