If you are planning to celebrate this day and you are a man, proper etiquette requires you to give a flower to the important ladies in your life, traditionally, a carnation. (Carnation is gożdik the flower, not the spice. Karnacja is complexion)
Women’s Day (March 8th) has definite political connotations for many in Poland who still associate it with the Communist Era. For that reason the carnation, a perfectly good flower, has gotten a bad rap. If you want to check it, give your love a bouquet of carnations and see the reaction you get. (The florist will be sure to ask you if you need an invoice ‘cause nobody buys so many carnations except for official celebrations.) One of my students one year gave his girlfriend this kind of goździk (cloves) and a package of pantyhose (communist joke). The reaction wasn’t any better.
Another of my students has given the name “goździki” to communist style office ladies. You know the ones that drink too much coffee, wear too much make-up, set their hair once a week and can be pushed along with kiss of the hand and a box of chocolates. As you can gather, it is not a compliment.
Another of my students, an owner of a company that employs a lot of women, provides reserved movie tickets for each and every woman in the company and an afternoon off to go together to see the movie. That’s nice.
And what will I get for Women’s Day? Probably the same that I got last year and every year before that. Nothing. Misiu always says, “Women’s Day is for communists. And besides, you are American, every day is your day.”
I can’t argue with that.
PS While being called a “goździk” by my student is not a compliment, it still sounds a lot nicer than the popular nickname “biurwa”. This is also an office lady, the word a combination of the Polish words for office and whore. It’s not a compliment either ;)
PS2 Lizzie was complaining that her school practiced “teatr” on Friday and that only boys were allowed to be “rycerzy” and girls had to sit and watch. Before I could lock into conspiracy theory mode, I figured that they were probably practicing for Women’s Day. Probably the boys are going to be knights and give the girls flowers. How sweet.