Around the world most countries set aside a special day just to celebrate mothers. This Sunday is Mother’s Day in Australia and so I thought I would share some of the traditions associated with Mother’s Day.
Originally Mother’s Day was celebrated in England from medieval times. Many families had to send their children off to work far away from home in big houses or to become apprentices. The children would rarely have any time off and would not see their mothers very often. On Mother’s Day children were allowed to go home to their Mothers and their home parish. They would visit their mother church in their home town and spend time with their mother at home. The children would often bake special cakes called ‘mothering cakes’ and pick bunches of primroses to give to their mothers. Later traditions included cakes being made with candied or icing primroses on top in memory of this.
According to Catholic Church tradition, May is the month that is sacred to the Virgin Mary. This made May the perfect time to celebrate all mothers and the special place they hold in both families and national cultures. This may be because May in the northern hemisphere is in late spring, when all the livestock and wild animals would be having their young.
The United States made Mother’s Day the big commercial shindig that it has become. Florists and confectioners caught onto the original idea of a day to celebrate mothers and used it for marketing. While I have nothing against presents and flowers or showing your mum that you care, I do know that the little handmade presents and cards my sons made when they were little are much more special than a big fancy present could have been.
In the Philippines the mother is called the “light of the household” who everything and everyone else revolves around. Like in Australia, mothers on Mother’s Day are treated to special meals out, gifts and family time or by giving mothers time to pamper themselves. Most families celebrate at home, with children doing things around the house such as preparing food or cleaning, or giving mothers small homemade cards and gifts.
Italians celebrate La Festa della Mamma with a big feast and a cake made in the shape of a heart. Like in Australia, Italian schoolchildren make something to bring home to their Mothers, and the family will take care of the chores for the day.
For some people Mother’s Day can be quite painful, either through the loss of their own mother or losing a child. It can also be because their relationship with their mother was abusive or difficult – which makes it very hard emotionally when all around you are images of a loving relationship you haven’t had or have lost.
In Nepal there is a tradition honouring mothers who have died. People go to a sacred pool or lake and make offerings to bring peace to their mother’s souls. This tradition is said to come from a legend about a shepherd who made offerings to his late mother in the pool and one day saw her face in the water and her hand reaching out to receive the gifts. Many people hope to see their mother’s face when they make the offerings.
However you celebrate Mother’s Day, either with a big family celebration or just an ‘I love you’ call, I hope you have a great day.