Happy Women's Day!

Happy Women's Day!

An International Event, Little Known in U.S.

While this international holiday has been sponsored by the United Nations since 1975, not many people in the United States are familiar with it.

Women's Day dates to the early 20th century as women in Europe and America began to campaign for the right to vote. This, coupled with the battle for better pay and decent working conditions, especially in the textile industry, incited the socialist women of America to initiate the first Women's Day in the United States, in February 1908.

After women garment workers organized the Shirtwaist Strike in 1909 and the death of 129 female textile workers in the notorious Triangle Fire of 1911 in New York, feminists and socialists throughout Europe took an interest in Women's Day.

One hundred women from 17 countries attended the International Conference of Socialist Women in Copenhagen in 1911. There, Clara Zetkin proposed an International Women's Day, which was unanimously approved.

It took longer to set the date for this holiday. Originally set for March 19, it was eventually moved to March 8. According to most Italian accounts, the choice of date, proposed by Marxist agitator Rosa Luxembourg, was meant to correspond to the date of the Triangle Fire. The fire actually occurred, however, on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, to this day known by British Christians as "Lady Day."

On March 8, 1917, (Feb. 23, under the Julian calendar then in use in Russia) working women of St. Petersburg protested for bread and peace giving rise to the so-called February Revolution. Alexandra Kollontai, one of the revolutionary leaders, convinced Lenin in 1918 to declare March 8 a national holiday in honor of the "heroic woman worker."

The celebration of women finds a more comprehensive and less ideological expression in the writings of John Paul II, notably in the closing remarks of his 1988 apostolic letter "Mulieris Dignitatem."

The Church, writes the Pope, gives thanks for each and every woman, "for mothers, for sisters, for wives; for women consecrated to God in virginity; for women dedicated to the many human beings who await the gratuitous love of another person; for women who watch over the human persons in the family ...; for women who work professionally, and who at times are burdened by a great social responsibility."

Italy can boast of having created Women's Day's most charming tradition, the yellow mimosa. Abundant at this time of year, the flower was chosen by the Union of Italian Women in 1946 for its vibrant, joyous color and its fragile appearance (which disguises a sturdy plant) as well as its traditional symbolism of life from death.

The typical sweetie is the so called "mimosa cake".

This cake is a soft one, and keeps its name from its aspect, resembling a mimosa flower. This effect is obtainened by covering its surface with little cubes of "pan di spagna" (a particula kind of very soft cake).

Happy Women's Day!

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