As May 8th celebrates International Women’s Day, fond memories of this celebration come to mind. As a young girl growing up in Italy, each year we celebrated this day with the gift of yellow mimosa flowers. In Italy, it is tradition to gift these flowers to the special women in your life. But why was this timid flower made up of small yellow beads selected to represent women? Some speculate this selection goes back to the tragedy of March 8th, 1908, the catalyst to today’s celebration. There is a belief that outside the building where 129 female workers died in the tragic fire, stood a mimosa tree. Others believe that Italian women were the ones to choose the mimosa flower as they celebrated their very first “Women’s Day” in 1946. The U.D.I. (Unione Donne Italiane-Italian Women’s Union) chose this flower, as it was one of the rare one to bloom at the beginning of March.
I remember being in elementary school and every March 8th the boys in the classroom brought a small bouquet of mimosas and placed it on each girl’s desk. It was a small gesture but it meant so much. At such young age I couldn’t really understand the meaning of being a woman, nor the sacrifices that had paved the way for such a special day. Yet, I now think of the mimosa flower as a symbol of tender strength, the symbol of Woman. I remember its aroma, the fresh and invigorating scent deriving from the small droplets delicately hanging from the stems. A simple touch would crumble their gentle substance, yet they bloomed when everything else still remained in a wintery slumber. The mimosa flower is simple and plain, yet reflects an endless beauty and sweetness. I find mimosa flowers to be the perfect symbol to represent women and everything they personify: strength, uniqueness, boldness, sweetness, and gentleness.
As we celebrate this March 8th let us be thankful for the women in our lives, those gentle and quiet spirits who’ve shown us the way. But let us not forget those bold, outspoken, determined women who also proved that as a mimosa branch we can survive the toughest situations and bloom in the harshest of environments.