The first time I became aware of International Women’s Day or ‘La Festa della Donna,’ was in 1982. I had just turned 21 and was walking through Florence after a day teaching English. I was on my ‘Year Abroad’, the third year of a French and Italian degree at Hull University. As I looked around me in the streets and piazzas I saw women holding small bunches of a yellow flower that I did not recognise. As I strolled along, wondering what it meant, a bunch of these fluttery branches was placed in my hand by a stranger. I looked at the needle shaped leaves and the mass of small pom pom like yellow flowers and smelt its dusty scent. I can remember that feeling so well of carrying it as I walked, alongside all the women around me, feeling a very special bond - of womanhood - something I’d never thought of before.
In literature it often represents the sun, and is a symbol of secret love - a lovely alternative to the red rose for Valentine’s Day perhaps.
But giving mimosa flowers on March 8th is not considered a romantic gesture but one of solidarity. Teresa Mattei, one of Italy's first women in Italian politics, was responsible for making the mimosa the symbol of Women's Day in 1946. It is said that she chose Mimosa as it grew everywhere in the countryside so was accessible to all.
She was a woman who cared for equality for all. She lived in Tuscany for most of her life and went to the University of Florence. At 25 she was the youngest person to be elected to the Constituent Assembly (the parliamentary body assigned to write a constitution for the Italian Republic) and was a signatory to Article Three of the constitution of the new Italian Republic, declaring all citizens regardless of sex, race, language, religion, political opinions, personal and social conditions to have the right to equal social dignity and be equal before the law. She then spent over 50 years as a leading advocate of the rights of women and children.
Here at Violet and Vine we love stories of inspirational women and are influenced by them in many ways whether they be historical or literary figures but as a family we get lots of inspiration from each other and I am so grateful to be surrounded by wonderful women. Isabelle and I work so well together and I really feel we are a mother and daughter team. My actual daughter Daisy also works with us on the admin and social media side of things and my other daughter Jess is the go to for all things marketing. We have Michelle and Deb, friends who are there for us supporting in the wings and offering extra help if we need it. We have so many friends, past brides and future brides supporting us by liking and sharing our posts too.
We are very much inspired by the amazing Willow Crossley who we love not only for her talent and ideas but for her grace and loveliness.
Closer to home, Kerryn and Tracey of Old Farmhouse Flowers in Bassingham, also inspire us with the absolutely beautiful flowers they grow. We do grow our own too so know how much work and love goes into growing them but they do it on a much bigger scale and with such amazing results. They not only supply us with the best flowers around but also share with us their invaluable plant growing tips and knowledge.
Another flower lady we love is my sister-in-law Jen. She too grows flowers but unfortunately for us lives in Sussex. However when we do meet for family get-togethers there’s always a good exchange of flower talk and if the timing’s right we do manage to get some of the flowers we use from her. Check out her flowers if you live in the Horsham area on her Facebook or Instagram pages. She also sells the most beautiful wreaths and jam jar flower arrangements.
I’m feeling very grateful for all the wonderful women who help and inspire us - just need a bunch of Mimosa in my hand and it would be perfect.