Today is International Women's Day. It's like Valentine's Day in this part of the world, only you don't have to be in a relalationship to enjoy it. Everyone gets into it. I was at the grocery store this morning and they were selling donuts with "March 8" written on their tops in icing. A woman behind me in the checkout line wished a happy holiday to the cashier girls. Yesterday, during one of our stops in Azatyan, a village a few hours from Yerevan, the head of an NGO gave me a flower, and my colleague Irina got a strange little panorama made of pebbles and a tiny ceramic urn. Not sure the significance of the latter, but our (male) driver Ruben definitely got nothing. (Stay tuned for a longer blog entry about our two-day trip to northwest Armenia).
Today all the restaurants were packed because one of the hallmarks of International Women's Day, at least as observed in Armenia, is the fact that women aren't supposed to cook or do any other work. International Women's Day is now kind of a squishy holiday as observed by international organizations who have turned it into a human rights thing, but really it was the brainchild of socialists. American socialists at first, according to Wikipedia, and then by decree of the U.S.S.R. Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, which ordered that the day be observed "in commemoration of outstanding merits of the Soviet women in communistic construction," among other things. You can read more about it here. You'll note there is actually quite a bit about Armenia in this article, but despite what it says about March 8 being replaced by April 7, IWD is definitely observed here.