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Sunday, March 7, 2010

La Festa Della Donna


I wish I were in Stresa right now... I often wish that of course, but it would be especially nice to be there, or anywhere in Italy for that matter, today, when Italy and much of the world celebrates La Festa della Donna, International Women's Day.

Always on March 8, the origins of the day seem a bit fuzzy, with several different theories on how it began. Some say it can be traced all the way back to a Roman festival marking the beginning of spring. But in its present form most theories say it started much more recently, and with political undertones, in the twentieth century. Now celebrated in many countries around the world, the political meaning has been forgotten, and the day has evolved into an occasion for men to remember the women in their lives. It's a bit different from the romantic nature of Valentine's Day, or the familial nature of Mother's Day. This is a more general appreciation of women as a group, an opportunity to recognize their contributions to society, their achievements and their sacrifices. It's also a time to remind us of the struggle women have endured to obtain their equal rights, and of the oppression that many women in the world still live under.

So how to celebrate? Italian men will give the women in their lives branches of blooming yellow mimosa blossoms, the symbol of the day, to show them that they are thought of and appreciated. The custom has expanded, with women now giving each other sprigs as well.

If you happen to be in Italy today, now you know why you'll see women holding or wearing yellow flowers. And surely you'll notice the carts of mimosa vendors everywhere. Pick up a few, and find someone to give them to. Wouldn't it be lovely to just present them to a total stranger?

Buona Festa della Donna a Tutti le Donne!



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