I had never heard of International Women’s Day until I was 16. I don’t think it was ever spoken about, and it certainly wasn’t ever celebrated.
I was on a school trip to Italy and we were in the beautiful city of Florence when I saw women everywhere walking arm in arm, chanting “auguri” or “best wishes” and “congratulations” to each other. I remember loving how the women and girls seemed to be running through the streets in groups and giggling and laughing and it seemed like a commercial to me.
And I remember the mimosas, little yellow flowers tied together in small bunches available to purchase from vendors everywhere.
And I remember the men! Italian men gave these bunches of flowers to women – strangers – and greeting them with pure happiness. Actually, everyone gave those little flowers to each other and it didn’t matter if they were young, old, male or female. There was happiness in the air that day, which I had never experienced.
It was beautiful!
My favourite memory was getting ice cream with my friends from the geleteria (ice cream shop) across from our hotel and as we came out and waited to cross the street, this little blue car stopped right in front of us. A boy popped out from the sunroof and started telling me and my friends that we beautiful and started to wish us a good night. Then he ducked back in the car and popped back up again with some mimosas, which he broke apart to give us each a piece.
Of course, our 16 year old selves died of embarrassment, especially since cars behind him started to honk and people were yelling obscenities at him and the driver, since he had now blocked off the narrow street to speak to four girls. But he took his time anyway, and after handing us each some flowers and blowing us kisses, he turned to the line of cars and gave them all a very animated hand gesture and then dropped back in the car and they drove away.
Somewhere in my memory box of my trip to Italy are those mimosas, sandwiched in a book. I cherish that memory as it still brings a smile to my face.
Wherever you are in the world, celebrate yourself and the women in your life tomorrow! Mothers, daughters, granddaughters, sisters, cousins, aunts, nieces, friends and more!
Happy International Women’s Day to you all!