The gift of celebrations and their meaning around the world

The weather in Amarillo will never surprise me. Just this week we went from a blizzard to pretty nice outside. The snow melting as fast as it came. We need the moisture and I will never complain when it comes in any form. I felt for the linemen out in the weather trying to ensure we all had power. I am always grateful when they get it turned back on after a power outage from the weather.  

Something you learn when you travel the world for several years is that every culture is different. They all have their own holidays and celebrations. In America we don’t realize it, but we have probably the fewest holidays of any country.

Most other countries will celebrate almost anything and have some sort of holiday nearly monthly. Whether it is the changing of the seasons or like the most recent March 8 International Women's Day. This day had some friction to become an America observance back in the 70’s, but I don’t think it has been officially recognized here yet.

There are several events scheduled every year even here to celebrate it. It was first introduced to the world on March 19, 1911, by the then leader of the women's office for the social democratic party in Germany Clara Zetkin. She wanted a day to celebrate women's achievements in every country on the same day. I remember it was very special for the Russian soldiers. After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, it was made a national holiday to celebrate on March 8 by the socialist movement and most communist countries.

The Russians celebrate it very much like Valentine's day. The men are expected to buy their wives or girlfriends flowers and other trinkets. They will go on a romantic date and celebrate how great women are and how the world would not work without them in it. They, of course, then celebrate Shrovetide because one holiday isn’t enough. This holiday is typically celebrated with pancakes and has turned into basically a weeklong celebration of women.  

The United Nations celebrated International Women's Day for the first time in 1975. Then in 1996 they came up with an annual theme. This year's theme was "Change comes from challenge." The basic premise is that we can all enact change when we challenge inequalities. This is an interesting holiday and should be more formally recognized and celebrated here. I think we celebrate mothers on Mother's Day, however we never really just celebrate women and all they have brought to the table for the betterment of our society.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at