It is the 8th of March – International Women’s Day (IWD), a day to celebrate women’s skills, talents, achievements and progress. It is also a day to continue the fight for equal rights and opportunities of women and girls worldwide. The question is why is International Women’s Day celebrated? What do you do on International Women’s Day?
This blog will share the background and how la Festa della Donna is celebrated in Italy, including a recipe for the famous Mimosa cake which is traditionally made to celebrate the day.
The earliest celebration of women called “National Women’s Day” was held in February 1909 in New York. The following year in 1910, a conference was held in Copenhagen, Denmark where a decision was agreed upon to dedicate one day each year for women around the world to rally for equality – a unified, call for change.
The 8 March 2019 marks 108 years since the first International Women’s Day (IWD). IWD was held for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on the 19 March 1911. On this day, more than one million women and men gathered to campaign for women’s rights to have equal opportunity at work including fair pay, right to vote, hold public office and end discrimination against women. It was a focal point in the movement of women’s rights.
IWD is celebrated on the 8 March every year and around the world to honour how far women have come and acknowledge the need for further progress to truly achieve gender equality. Australia’s IWD theme is “More Powerful together”. This year’s theme highlights that if we all work together, we can create a world where women and girls everywhere have equal rights and opportunities as men and boys.
In Italy, the importance of la Festa della Donna is demonstrated by giving and receiving yellow mimosa flowers. In 1946, a vote was cast to choose a flower that best represents the strength and qualities of women. The mimosa flower was chosen because of its bright, joyful yellow colour which flowers early March. Also like most women, the looks of Mimosa are deceiving – behind its fragile appearance hides a strong character that can thrive in the most challenging environments.
Today the tradition continues where men give yellow mimosa flowers to their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters as a sign of respect. Women also give other women mimosa flowers. My husband Simone speaks of how every 8th March in Italy he would buy a large bunch of bright yellow mimosa flowers, then hand out little bunches to his mum, female teachers and friends at school. What an endearing tradition! Interestingly, mimosa was introduced to Europe from Australia in 1820 – what a contribution Aussies have made!
In Italy, during the week of la Festa della Donna, there are many free events between art, culture, food and wine, relaxation, health and wellness. Many museums and exhibitions offer free entry to women on the 8 March – this is an initiative that has been renewed for a few years.
What else do the Italians do to celebrate la Festa della Donna? Create a recipe for the occasion of course.
La Torta Mimosa (the mimosa cake) recipe was created to celebrate la Festa della Donna. Italian Spoon’s Torta mimosa is filled with delicious layers of Strega soaked Italian sponge cake and Crema diplomatica. It is beautifully decorated with cubes of Italian sponge cake to resemble a bouquet of yellow mimosa flowers. Try our recipe for Torta mimosa today!
What can you do this International Women’s Day 2019? There are IWD events such as concerts and conferences all around the world. The official colour for IWD is purple — so today wear the colour purple or have some fun with the colour purple (blow up purple balloons or write your emails using a purple font).
This year, let’s make it a day for women and men to celebrate IWD with the most important women in our lives – it could be with family, work colleagues or women who inspire you. Perhaps you could organise a girl’s night in or out, or group girl’s pampering. IWD is the perfect day to think about the health and well-being of you and family/friends. IWD is the perfect excuse to invite your friends over and cook a delicious meal together, then relax on the couch to watch a chic flick. Perhaps you could make a beautiful mimosa cake together – you now have the recipe.
It is always a good time to show your on-going support for the world’s women and girls – IWD is no exception. Perhaps this is the year to give a gift that empowers women by donating to a women’s charity of your choice or gift a yellow mimosa flower to show your respect and appreciation.
One day I would love to be in Italy for la Festa della Donna and welcome the gift of a sweet-smelling mimosa flower. No matter what you decide to do to celebrate International Women’s Day 2019, have fun but remember this year’s theme “More Powerful together”. We all need to work together to achieve transformation for women and girls across the globe.
Have fun and happy cooking X
What to do on International Women’s Day (Festa della Donna) 2019 blog authored by Vanessa Bottaro