Mom’s are truly amazing. They are our teachers, our chefs, our security blankets, and many times even our doctors. And, of course, until we learned how to ride a bike or got our own driver’s license, our chauffeur! So, every day should be Mother’s Day shouldn’t it?
Our own Mother’s Day in the United States was started ironically by an unwed, childless woman in the wake of her mothers death in 1905. Anna Jarvis envisioned the day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. With financial backing from store owner, John Wanamaker, the first official Mother’s Day was celebrated at a Methodist church in West Virginia while thousands attended a Mother’s Day celebration at the Wanamaker’s retail stores in Philadelphia.
Spurred on by the popularity of the first Mother’s Day, Jarvis pushed to see the holiday added to the national calendar. By 1914, after a massive letter campaign and the establishment of the Mother’s Day International Association, Woodrow Wilson rewarded Jarvis’s persistence by signing a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
But Jarvis grew to dislike the commercialization of Mother’s Day. She felt that all the gift giving overwhelmed the purse sentiment of the day. By 1920 she fervently urged people to stop buying flowers, cards and candies, sued groups that used the name “Mother’s Day” and even lobbied the government to have the day removed from the American calendar. But that’s only the American story. There are hundreds of wonderful Mother’s Day traditions all around the world. Here are five fascinating celebrations from among the many that we think are worth mentioning.
In Costa Rica, Mother’s Day is an enthusiastically celebrated National Holiday. However, they don’t celebrate in May like many other countries. Rather they set the date to coincide with the Catholic holy day celebrating the Assumption of Mary, August 15th. Makes sense when 80% of your population is Catholic! Costa Rican traditional families are matriarchal at home but on this day in August moms are treated like true royalty, receiving specially prepared meals and small personal gifts. Some are even graced with larger gifts like appliances! Some families may even raise a pig to be offered on that day as they, with their mothers, celebrate “feliz dia de la madre!”
In Germany they celebrate “Muttertag“(Mother’s Day) in May. However the German tradition started a bit unusually when it was first celebrated in 1922 as a way to raise the low birthrate. It was officially declared a German holiday in 1933 during the period of National Socialism under the Hitler regime when childbearing women were honored as heroes to the people. Nicknamed the “Order of the Rabbit”, bronze, silver and gold medals were awarded depending on how many children were produced. After World War II Mother’s Day took on a more traditional feel with cards and flowers instead of medals and German mothers are thanked for everything they do with gifts and food.
Ethiopians value mothers so much that they gather for a three day celebration called “Antrosht.” Antrosht begins after the rainy season in the fall and can occur in October or November depending on when the rain stops. They celebrate with feasting and mother-daughter rituals where they cover themselves with butter on their faces and chests. The three days also include joyful dancing, singing and large family meals where the boy children are responsible for certain ingredients and the girls bring others and mom will cook and serve as a symbol of her love for her family.
Mother’s Day in Nepal is based on the Bikram Sambat Nepali calendar which follows the positions of the sun, moon and planets landing this special day in April or May. Mother’s Day, known as “Aama ko Mukh Herne Din” literally translates to “day to see mother’s face” and is celebrated with a festival to honor all mothers, living and deceased. During this festival living mothers are given generous gifts of food or clothing. For those with mothers who have died, the festival is celebrated by visiting the legendary natural pond ‘Mata-Tirtha” outside of Kathmandu. Pilgrims believe that they will see their mother’s face when they peer into the pond as she comes to accept their offerings and they believe their visit will bring peace to her soul.
In Boliva, “Dia de la Madre” is the most celebrated holiday besides Christmas. Mother’s Day is always on May 27th, a day that commemorates when Bolivian women participated in battle against the Spanish Army. With their men dying all around them, a group of women from the Cochabamba region armed themselves with sticks and small weapons and fought the Spaniards. Hundreds of women, children and elders were slaughtered. Once they achieved their independence from Spain, a law was passed in honor of this important day in Bolivian history declaring May 27th as the “Day of the heroines of Coronillas” – Mother’s Day! Felix Dia de la Madre!
So, no matter where you live or where you’re from, mothers have a special place in our collective hearts and our histories. Share with us your favorite way to celebrate mom!