I belong to the generation born in 60-es, so for me International Women's Day, in Polish: Miedzynarodowy Dzien Kobiet, was celebrated as long as I remember. I always thought that women have their day everywhere around the world - at least once a year, just on the 8th of March! Later, I realized that this was not a case and in many countries this day is not observed. Either women there have their feast the whole year or no any day at all! Rather this second is true!
International Women's Day became celebrated in Poland after War World II. It was arbitrary imposed from Soviet Union's tradition. It was first implemented in 1948 replacing a day of blessed Wincenty Kadlubek in Polish calendar. The Women's Day in Soviet Union is a day free from work for everybody, not just the women. Although initially this feast was enforced by the government, it became accepted by the Polish society and it became a part of Polish culture.
Below is some history of Women's Day in Poland:
Since 1948 until 1956 when Soviet Union abolished officially Stalin policies this day was a final day of communistic competition for women (read more about communistic competition in the article entitled The Work Ethics in Poland (II); Work Heroes and Party Actions). Polish women were undertaking the resolutions to exceed their working norms. They were expected to show a record of excellent work and a superb production results to their communistic supervisors. Polish newspapers were wishing women - excellent work efficiency. The portraits of women as work champions were hung on the walls of the factories through February and March.
With the fall of the Stalinism - the government and the mass media started noticing that women are mothers, housewives and that they also have beauty. Although the government and newspapers still try to convince Polish women that the most important is their role to built a socialistic future - mass media and political communistic figures also wish women a personal happiness.
In the 70-es finally this day was accepted commonly in the society. Now it had two aspects - the official one and the unofficial - private. Sometimes these two aspects were intertwined - for instance at work and at schools- were the official ceremonies took place but also men were celebrating women coworkers and children were bringing flowers to their teachers who were predominantly women. Schoolboys often were giving flowers to schoolgirls from their class. This was the easy day at schools, no exams and homework was checked. The most popular gift goven to women - was a flower - usually carnation, sometimes rose. So this day was really a paradise for florists!
Late eighties mark the dawn of the celebration of the Women's Day. Here are the reasons - first of all the society wanted to abolish all the remnants of communism and this day - although not strictly connected with communism, was introduced by communists and as such - should go away. Besides, there was a strong tendency to adopt Western culture. Valentine Day become popular - although it was completely unknown in Poland till the middle of eighties. Valentine day (called in Polish - Walentynki replaced somewhat the Women Day. Read about Valentine's Day versus Women's Day in Poland. Many people also realized that the simple fact that women have this one day in the year - puts them in the position of underprivileged and this need to be changed since women role in the society needs to be changed.
Now, there is an attempt to revitalize this day. Many women just missed being treated differently and special at least this one time during the year - when men tried to be better husbands or sons - helping in the daily chores.
Check the article: How women dressed before and after WW I in Poland with nice photos showing the evolution in women dressing.
The Ideas of the Woman Suffrage Movement, 1890-1920 by Aileen S. Kraditor