On Russian women, horses, and burning houses

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Today was different.

Instead of a suspicious glare from the охрана at the store, I got the usual glance and с праздником! 

Teachers carried bouquets and boxes of chocolate through the halls between classes yesterday.

At the beauty salon this morning, the trash can was filled with empty bottles of booze. Two wilting pieces of cake sat out on the counter from last night’s party.

A leftover cookie.

On the other hand, not everyone likes the pretty wrappings of this holiday. I sent a friend the requisite flower photo for International Women’s Day and she sent back this:

What? Oh, that horse/burning house reference? It’s yet another poem that native Russian speakers know and we learners only encounter by chance. In this case, it’s a poem from the 19th century poet Nikolay Nekrasov: “There are Women in Russian Villages”.

Коня на скаку остановит, В горящую избу войдет!

[She can] stop a galloping horse, walk into a burning house!


I asked my friend how she felt about March 8th. “I think people forgot what it’s for,” she replied.

Some of my students voiced the same opinion in class yesterday. This holiday has become too empty, too sugary.

What do you think? Do you think International Women’s Day has become a superficial celebration? Have you seen any similar references to the poem Есть женщины в русских селеньях?

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