March 8th is International Women’s Day. Something I had never heard of until I moved to Italy. It’s a big deal over there, which I thought was fabulous. A special day to celebrate women in general, internationally. Love. It.
I was teaching first graders the first time that I got to celebrate this holiday, and it was divine. All of the children brought me bunches of yellow mimosas to decorate the classroom. Some of the students brought in little treats and cards declaring “Auguri!” It was the sweetest thing.
I loved that the only flowers that were brought in were the mimosas. (Personally, mimosas [the flower, not the drink…I adore the drink] are not my favorite. I am allergic to them and they give me a roaring headache.) In Italy, traditions are everything. And the tradition for la Festa delle Donne is to give the women in your life a bunch of yellow mimosas. And ONLY yellow mimosas. Not roses, not tulips, not daffodils. Mimosas. So the entire city of Naples was brimming in yellow dust from the flowers.
In the days leading up to this “holiday,” every roadside vendor sells these flowers. When you stop your car at a stoplight, gypsy children come up to your window, peddling the flowers. You can get them outside the grocery store, and at every market. When I came home from work, Giuseppe had a vase of the flowers for me on the kitchen table every year.
In the US, this holiday goes by completely unmentioned. And come on, it’s supposed to be international. It is such a lovely holiday for the ladies. Nothing fancy, just a little bunch of scraggly flowers to say, “Today is the day we celebrate women.” I think what endeared me so to the holiday is the simplicity of it. The token of the mimosas was such a sweet gesture that it made me look forward to the holiday each year.
Since we’ve left Italy, though, there have been no flowers. My darling husband called me at my office this morning from the airport in Denver to let me know that he did not forget: “Auguri per la festa delle donne, amore.”