March 8th is International Women’s Day across the world, but it’s also Mother’s Day in Albania. But how come that Albania has repurposed International Women’s Day into Mother’s Day? And how is Mother’s Day usually celebrated?

The History of International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day has a complex history which started in the year 1908 in the US with women protesting and demanding the right to vote. This resulted in the first permanent trade unions to be formed in the US.

The news of what was happening in the US reached Europe and German’s socialist women picked up on this. In 1910 at the Copenhagen Conference Clara Zetkin proposed the annual celebration of Women’s Day in the hope that this will aid the women’s suffrage.

Image Source: Open Edition Books

On March 18th 1917 women textile workers in Petrograd, Russia started a demonstration that ended up triggering the Russian Revolution. In 1922 Lenin declared March 8th women’s day and this was adopted in many other Soviet and Communist countries including Albanian.

In the west it was largely ignored until the late 1960s when feminists picked up on the holiday and joined the socialists which led to International Women’s Day being recognised by the UN in 1975.

Across Albania International Women’s Day has always been not just about celebrating the role of women in the culture, but also the role of women as mothers so it makes sense that following the fall of communism, IWD became Mother’s Day. Fun Fact: The same thing happened in Laos.

March 8th – Mother’s Day in Albania

Today International Women’s Day is also celebrated as Mother’s Day in Albania. Despite everyone celebrating it across the country, it is not an official public holiday.

The day is usually celebrated with women being given flowers all around the city, yes it’s not just your family, but you may enter a bar or a shop and someone will wish you happy women’s day and give you a flower with your lunch.

The yellow flower bunches you often see people with at this time of year are called ‘Mimoza’ (interestingly they are not part of the Mimosa family, but they are actually acacia trees).

Mother's Day in Albania

Image Source: Kalite Cicek

The tradition of giving Mimozas actually started in Italy in 1946 when communist politician Teresa Mattei chose the mimosa as the symbol of International Women’s Day. She felt that the traditionally used violets and illies of the valley were too expensive for the poor, rural Italian areas, so she suggested using ‘Mimozas’ as an alternative.

So, if you have close female friends, a mother or sister-in-law or a girlfriend in Albania, then don’t forget to get yourself some flowers to hand out on March 8th.

Happy International Women’s Day.