You might not have even noticed it was International Women’s Day if you live in North America. But it’s impossible to miss here in Ukraine.
Here, they refer to it as the “Holiday of Women,” and the kids were released from school Wednesday at noon to start a long weekend. (Nothing like creating more child care work for all of us mothers than early release and days off school, but I guess another way of looking at the gesture is that we get to spend more quality time with our little darlings.) The nanny who takes care of the almost-two-year-old cherub across the hall was hard at work today, though she love her job. I can tell by her broad smile every time I meet her. On my way to work at the bottom of the stairs, she was in the process of getting out Damian’s stroller to get him some fresh air. He hid behind her legs in his navy-blue snow suit. His nanny shared best wishes in Ukrainian, which I interpreted successfully only because she knew and repeated the word “woman,” then pointed at the two of us and smiled as if she was sharing a joke. I responded with my new Ukrainian phrase, “and you, too.” She seemed satisfied with it, ungrammatical as it was. And we each headed off happily to devote our day to other people’s children.
The flower shops that ring every farmer’s market were busy yesterday and swarmed today with buyers and sellers. In the heat of town, on Svobody Prospect, every second person (i.e. every female over the age of 12) carried flowers in cellophane. Mostly tulips and all in odd-numbered bunches — mostly one or three or five. After all, even numbers of flowers signify bad luck. No one here would think of giving anyone a dozen roses!
Chocolates usually go with gifts of flowers around here, but the only accompaniment I saw this afternoon was a bottle of wine, swung bravely along in one hand by a young father whose little girl in pink knit hat and matching mittens was carrying her mother’s bouquet. This year chocolatiers must notice that International Woman’s Day has fallen in Lent. Chocolates would be a tough sell in this reverent environment.
Happy International Women’s Day, wherever you are! I’m off to celebrate by sipping a Lvivske beer and playing a game of scrabble. The kids have gone out for coffee.