The story of Carnations and Tights

Here in Poland the International Women’s Day is more commonly celebrated than in many of its neighbouring Western countries. And although nowadays roses are the more elegant gift, Poles seemingly have a thing with carnations… and tights! We asked a Polish guestwriter, Żaneta Piętak to shed some light on this special day:

Red flowers and a thin piece of fabric – what would you associate it with? Roses and something that you could make your dress of? Some posh tablecloth with a floral pattern? People in Poland would only imagine two things: carnations and tights. The communist symbol of appreciation for women of all ages and professions.

As many other things in the history of this country, the Women’s Day is connected with the Socialists. In the times when the only thing that we could have was the lack of the things we wanted to have, the only gift that could be given was supposed to be something practical but beautiful at the same time. Hence carnations – the most Communist of all flowers, as opposed to decadent roses of the burguoise; and tights – those were in very short supply under the Communist regime (as well as tampons, good makeup, beautiful dressess… but that’s a different story).

Nowadays carnations and tights are only the relic of our troubled past and they are very often laughed at. For sentimental men it may still be the perfect way to express their love toward their significant others (I would love to get such a gift, actually), but for most of them it’s only something that is so before 1989.

The International Women’s Day is only one of numerous holidays typically devoted to the female half of the population. The origins of this day are strictly political, as it was declared a national holiday in the Soviet Union in 1917. Although nowadays this day is believed to be a moment of showing gratitude and respect to women all over the world, behind all of this there is still a communist tribute to a strong, working woman on a tractor.

It is one of the roles that women play in their lives. They are delicate. They are powerful. They are mothers. They are employees and employers. They have to be everyone because the world expects them to be. And maybe that is why they deserve a holiday. Of course men are worth being appre-ciated too, but it’s a men’s world so aren’t they already? Every single day?

The Women’s Day in Poland used to be much more popular in the past than it is today. We don’t see many men gifting their loved ones with tights and carnations. But it is such a pleasure to observe young guys giving roses to their girlfriends on that day, men letting women take their seat on the bus, fathers eating ice cream with their daughters.

This holiday could have a lot of opponents, who would use numerous arguments against its significance. Of course women should be appreciated every day, as love should be appreci-ated the whole year, not only on the Valentine’s Day, but this is only one of the occasions. One more moment for men to say to the women that matter in their life – girlfriends, wives, mothers, sisters, friends, “I like it that you’re here”.

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