Yesterday was International Women's Day, which is celebrated in Italy as the Festa Delle Donne. Where in the U.S., I feel that it serves more as a reminder of women's rights and the lack thereof worldwide, and is full of speeches, letters to the editor, and commitments of money and renewed dedication to the rights of women everywhere. According to an LA Times article yesterday, this extends to other countries as well - in Egypt, for example, women gathered to march for the right to help draft the countries new constitution.
In Italy, however, it's a bit of a different story. The country celebrates with gifts of mimosa, a little yellow flower that grows wild around the area, especially here. It's sort of like a combination of Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. There were signs all over Genoa advertising "All You Can Drink" Women's Day parties, free champagne, flowers, and so forth. The whole thing leaves me a little confused, as when someone greeted me with "Auguri!" yesterday (sort of like, happy-whatever-you-are-celebrating, be it a birthday, anniversary or, apparently festa delle donne), I responded with, "For what?". Mimosa flowers were everywhere yesterday, and the trees that could be reached picked of their blossoms thoroughly. The whole thing has a very lighthearted feel, which I wasn't used to, and is so widely celebrated I was really surprised. A little digging produced text from a speech given by President Napolitano yesterday on improving the conditions of working women and families in Italy, so apparently Italy too is a fan of speeches and dedicating new intention and importance to issues when their day of the year pops up.
Personally, I think the whole thing would be better with real mimosas.