When I was eating breakfast this morning at Caffè Farnese, I noticed that almost every Italian who walked by—man, woman, and child—carried a bouquet of fragrant, fluffy, yellow flowers. I then passed through Campo de’ Fiori on my way to my Italian class and learned that the flowers were mimosas. Deliverymen (I didn’t see any deliverywomen) unloaded truckloads of mimosa branches at the flower stands; the flower vendors gathered them into bouquets, wrapped them in colorful paper, and tied them with ribbon; and people lined up to buy them. Even street urchins got in on the act, hoping to sell armfuls of mimosas to passersby.
When I got to my class, I asked Claudia what was going on, and she said that Italians were celebrating La Festa della Donne—International Women’s Day. How embarrassing to have forgotten that! In Italy mimosas symbolize the day, and women receive bouquets of mimosas and go to dinner, in groups or with their partners. A professor interrupted my class to give Claudia a chocolate wrapped in mimosa-colored paper. Auguri, donne!
International Women’s Day began in the United States in 1908 and is now celebrated in various ways and to various degrees around the world. The goal is to celebrate women’s political, social, and economic advances, as well as women’s political and human rights. Charmingitaly.com had this to say about International Women’s Day in Italy: “Today the celebration of La Festa della Donna has become more similar to Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. Women receive bouquets of mimosa flowers from . . . husbands, sons, friends, or employers. This flower was chosen by Italian feminists as the symbol of the holiday in 1946 to mark the first . . . holiday after the end of World War II. . . . As with most holidays, over time the true meaning of La Festa della Donna has become trivialized and commercialized. There is a division of public opinion, mostly on the part of women themselves, between those who embrace the popular trend of treating the day as an excuse to go out and get crazy, and those who would rather remain faithful to the holiday’s serious, feminist roots.” The blogger also said that bakeries outdo themselves for the occasion, making beautiful Torte Mimosa from sugar, orange juice, whipped cream, and orange liqueur.
Our first grandchild was born yesterday. Our granddaughter, McKenna Suzanne, is beautiful, of course. I wish for her a life in which her gender does not limit her. One in which her dreams come true, she works at any job that she chooses, her pay matches that of men doing the same job, the glass ceiling no longer blocks her advancement, she is able to love whomever she wants, society values her, and she is happy. I hope that for her and for all women.