If you have found this page on or near March 8th, then we imagine you’re desperately trying to learn about Woman’s Day in Eastern Europe and Asia. Don’t worry, we’ll get you there because while Valentine’s is really a small Western holiday, 08 March is Women’s Day and celebrated in many parts of the world.
So is Valentine’s day popular in places like the former Soviet Union? Not yet to a great extent but we expect eventual change. Of course those selling flowers and candies online would like to convince you otherwise but only in the last couple of decades have those living in Eastern Europe and Asia even heard of Saint Valentine and Cupid. Even then, many believe it to be a Western (Roman) Catholic holiday and in this world of Orthodoxy, anything Roman Catholic is a hard sell.
Some say it is a Roman Catholic holiday for Saint Valentine and therefore some Orthodox believers show little interest, however the opposite would be true in Western Ukraine where the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic (Uniates) are a bigger part of the population.
There are some who believe that Valentine’s Day is yet another unwelcome Western intrusion into the life and culture of the FSU. Take this popular banner from Russian social media sites:
For others however, it is welcome sentiment and any celebration of love is an opportunity to be cherished. So on the same social media sites it is becoming more common each year to see Valentine greetings like the one below.
One thing is certain: nothing rivals what is termed “8 March” in this part of the world. March 8 is International Women’s Day and it is customary to honour every woman in a home with special focus on wives and mothers. Daughters, grandmothers and Aunts are remembered as well. The most common gifts are flowers (in odd numbers), chocolates and champagne. Think of 8 March as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day combined into one big celebration on steroids.
So, we’ll let Saint Valentine and Cupid slide on past this day for now. We’re saving our rubles for the big event still to come–8 March!
Whatever day you celebrate we extend our congratulations. Love is a good thing!