Who is the most important person in your life? The one that will always love and protect you and worry about you even if you are already living your own life? The one that you seek for advice and solace? – That’s right, your mother.
Although many, and me personally as well, think that you should honor your mother every day or on any day you feel like it – because you should not need a day to be reminded how much she means to you, we have nowadays an international holiday: Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day origins are reported to lie with the old Greeks, but with them vanishing the holiday vanished as well. The holiday, the way we know it today, has its roots in the United States. In May 1905 Anna Jarvis’ mother passed away and she pushed for establishing a day in order to honour mothers all around the country while they were still alive. In 1914 the government of the United States established Mother’s Day to be celebrated every second Sunday in May.
Many countries took on the habit on celebrating Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May, such as: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Taiwan, Turkey and others.
There are also a number of countries, who celebrate it on different dates, such as – Hungary, Portugal, South Africa and Spain celebrating the first Sunday in May or Mexico, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Singapore on the 10th of May. Some countries chose very different dates like the 12th of august in Thailand or 2nd of October in Argentina.
Having lived in three different countries, having a family in every single one, I am lucky to have three different “Mothers”: My Hungarian birth mother living in Germany, my Au-pair guest mom from France and my Chinese guest mom here in Qingdao.
In Germany, Children in Kindergarten and in Primary School are making handicrafts like drawings with flowers and small poems for their mothers. It is also very common to bring her breakfast in bed (with the help of Dad of course). I remember making necklaces out of hard noodles after colouring them in different colours. Later, it is very common to give your Mother flowers or treat her with breakfast/lunch or else.
In France, my family didn’t really celebrate Mother’s Day, which shocked me. I was 20 years old while living in France and I recall calling my Mom and my Grandma in Hungary to wish them all the best.
Something France and Germany had in common, although out of very different reasons is that both countries had a low birth rate beginning 20th century. During the 1906 period, in France every ten mothers who had nine children each were given an award recognising “High Maternal Merit” (“Haut mérite maternel”). Something similar to that existed under Hitler in Germany as well. It only applied to “German” Mothers. The regime wanted to honour German women who gave birth to as many as possible Aryan (blond and blue-eyed) children. If a woman gave birth to eight kids, she was rewarded with the “golden cross of Mothers” (“goldenes Mutterkreuz”).
Chinese Mothers Day traditionally is on the second day of the fourth month according to the lunar calendar, but it is also celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Distinguished from other countries, the Chinese people regard Mencius’s mother as the paradigm. Mothers would traditionally receive hemerocallis flowers from their sons and daughters on this holiday. But nowadays carnations or forget-me-nots have become alternatives.
I am impatiently waiting for Mother’s Day here in China to see how my family here celebrates it!