Friday, March 9, 2012

8th of March

Yesterday, March 8th, was quite the holiday here in Macedonia. The 8th of March or 8ми Март, is known as Women’s Day or Ден на Жени. Originally the day was explained to me as the Macedonian version of Mother’s Day. While it bears some similarities, it is more akin to Mother’s Day on steroids.

First a brief history, as it was explained to me by the locals. The 8th of March is a day to celebrate women and all the nice things they do. That was all the history I was given until today it was added in that perhaps on this day a long time ago women said they wanted to be treated like equals to their male counterparts. I told you it would be a brief history. No one I asked could tell me much more about the origins of this holiday.

I said it had some similarities to Mother’s Day, well from what I have observed, kids make cards for their moms and often give them a small gift, such as flowers or some other womanly trinket. This makes me think back to some of the junk I gave my mother on mother’s day- sorry. If it is anything like some of the stuff that is being sold here, you probably should have “accidentally” misplaced some of it (now all you mother’s reading this are probably thinking, no, its from my child I love everything I get. Now that I am older, I know, it’s a lie. Not everything you receive from your children is wonderful and worth hanging onto). At least I can say that in the last few years my Mother’s Day gifts have improved a little….hopefully.

Now here comes the steroids part. The children often give their female teachers a flower as well. If it were the US and you had a class of 25, you might get say 20 flowers- not too ridiculous. However today, I received over 75 flowers and small gifts from my 4th and 6th graders! There were some classes (one 4th grade in particular) that I could barely walk out of class because my arms were so full with gifts. Now my bedroom has one jar of real flowers and about 50 fake flowers (not quite sure what you do with 50 fake flowers…..). 
The real flowers
The fake flowers
I know flowers should make women happy and make rooms brighter and more festive, but in my case, I feel a little like I am in a funeral chapel, not really a great atmosphere for my bedroom. I also received a few interesting knick-knacks. I will let the pictures speak for themselves because there is no way I could adequately describe these items.
A lovely vase
And a box to store "special things" in
The Macedonian version of "Precious Moments"
A can of deodorant spray.... I know I don't get to shower as often as in the US, but....
However, my favourite part of the whole day was walking into one 4th grade classroom and all the kids had hidden in the very back of the room. When my counterpart and I walked in, they jumped up and all yelled, “Среќен 8ми Март!” and on the blackboard the children had written

Happy 8th Martch Наставници

I really wish I had gotten a picture of the board because it was the perfect mix of English, misspelled English, and Macedonian and was adorable and that’s the reason why those kids are probably my favourite class overall. 

In addition, many companies treat their female employees to special things on this day. At the preschool, I was told all the female teachers were being wined and dined at a nice restaurant in another town, compliments of the preschool. The teachers at my school were given shortened class periods (I had 5 classes today and we were done before 11am- only 30 minutes per class), then snacks and juice in the teacher’s lounge, followed by a brief appearance from the Director (principal) and a speech by a male teacher before handing out flowers and towels to all the female teachers (I found the gift of towels to be slightly amusing as if it is a day tied to women’s liberation of course the perfect gift is something to tie them to their housework!). A few of the teachers at my school left early to go to Italy for the weekend and I was told that the female teachers at another volunteer’s school were all going to a spa in Serbia to celebrate.

So I guess in the spirit of the day…

Среќен 8ми Март сите жени!
All of the gifts I received from my students on the 8th of March

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