Friday, March 08, 2013

Welcome March 8th: Black Friday for Russian Florists?

Today is March 8th, a red day, an official holiday, on the Russian calendar. It's International Women's Day, known simply the Eighth of March, the holiday is one of my personal favorites because, unlike Valentine's Day or Mother's Day, a person is honored simply for having been born female. And that suits me just fine!

Men are very busy on the 8th of March, buying flowers and chocolates for the women in their lives, for their wives, mothers, grandmothers, daughters and co-workers. The tradition starts young: Schoolboys take a collection to buy gifts for girls in their homeroom class. And it's a huge holiday: According to Voice of Russia, men in Moscow are spending some $550 million on gifts. And then. . . there's the rest of Russia.

This afternoon I went out to pick up some flowers and shoot some photos. Funny thing, vendors tend to be more willing to be photographed after a sale. But first, a look back at Eight of March posts from recent years. Here are the best photos, taken one morning when the vendors were busiest. Here are such creative floral designs plus the guy who deserves the gold medal for using a crane to deliver flowers. And, ta-da, here's a post with a video I did just for you, interviews with flower vendors on the street. This post has a short video from Russia Today news, a quick history of the holiday. Think you'll enjoy these.

So here's a look at the streets of Rostov-on-Don this afternoon, perhaps a bit subdued compared to the morning's flower rush, but managed to get you some photos, more easily done after buying some flowers.

It's like 4:15 pm, there's no time to waste. These guys are busy making decisions about flowers. Decisions, decision. Oh but let me tell you, they were very decisive about not being photographed close-up. Well all-righty then guys. . . 

Moooving right along. . .

Got talking to this nice fellow, wish I'd gotten his name. Asked him about the mimosa branches, left, which are grown far south of Rostov, in Abhkazia. That's along the Black Sea, even south of Sochi. That's quite a hike from here.

So how did you get all this mimosa from Abkhazia to Rostov? Amazing but true: He, himself, drove down and back, driving for 24 hours. And here he is working all day selling them. Now that's impressive. I didn't buy any flowers from him, my hands were already full, but he was so nice. . .

Here, these are for you, he said. Oh, Really? Glory be, what a nice gesture. These are so fragrant. 

 I was heading to see this dear soul. . .

Our sister Elena Lalaevna. She's a veteran of the World War 2, having served as a nurse. Now 92 years old, she lives by herself and is so grateful for any attention. So that's where I can help out, giving her some TLC from time to time. She loves her hyacinth. 

Say, while we're on the subject, thought you might like a quick look at Eight of March cards. Bought these just for you at the post office.

(Click to enlarge.) Four cards, all so springy, can almost catch the aroma. Let's zoom on in at two favorites.

Card on left: *On the day of the 8th of March, May all wishes and hopes be realized...*

*. . .. and may (they) all be successful and all come true! And may this celebratory day bring a mood (make you feel) that's wonderful, bright and simply spring-like! (And in Russian, it's so poetic!) 

Now for the mimosa card. So surprised, friend Misha stopped by last night with bouquet of these and chocolates. The mimosa has been chosen the official flower of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

*The 8th of March*

(May) a path of golden sunshine glide lightly across (your) cheek, (May) the mimosa branch so luxurious (be) like the sun's reflection in (your) hand. (verse 2) May these days of happiness be full of love and beauty, (May) your mood (or spirits) be good and all your wishes come true!

Dear Blog-reading friends, wishing you a splendid Eighth of March! Have you experienced this holiday in Eastern Europe? Please do share!


Betsy said...

I love the picture of Ms. Elena. I bet she has a thousand stories to tell and I wish I had the opportunity to sit on a footstool at her feet and hear them.

Thank you for giving us this personal window into Russian life.

Track said...

>> Black Friday for Russian Florists?

Oh, no! Florists do 25%-50% of the annual income of this day.
I think that they are lobbying this holiday.

Eileen said...

Hello Betsy, yes you're right Elena Lalaevna has so many stories I'm sure. But can you believe it - she doesn't remember anything. Nor does she hear much at all. So mostly we just talk about light things - whatever holiday it is. And we sing songs and pray together. Wish I could learn more about her life...

Eileen said...

Hello Track, Thanks much for your comment. Let me explain that *Black Friday* has a special meaning in English - it's a Great day in November, the Friday after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year. It's a happy day for retailers because on that day, in general, retailers are able to start operating in the black (that is, they're start making a profit)for the year. So that *black* is referring to accounting as opposed to a black mood. Okay? ;)

Track said...

I think about Black Monday in Russia
I forgot all about the sale. Although I sometimes use sales on