Saturday, May 12, 2012

Remembering Mum

It's Mother's Day tomorrow...
honouring our mums and the influence of mothers in society. Celebrated on various days around the world, in NZ it's on the second Sunday in May.
For most countries, the day's a fairly recent arrival from America. Some countries had existing celebrations honouring mothers, and just added aspects of the US holiday, like giving flowers and gifts. The extent of celebrations varies greatly: in some countries, it is offensive to one's mother not to mark Mother's Day.
Mothers Day in Bolivia commemorates an 1812 battle during its War of Independence, when women fighters were slaughtered by the Spanish army!
Meanwhile the offical Chinese People's Daily says that "despite originating in the United States, China accepts the holiday without hesitation because it is in line with the country's traditional ethics."
In France, Mothers Day began over low birth rate worries at the start of the C20th.! It awarded the Médaille de la Famille française to women who bore many children. France made the day official in 1920 as a day for mothers of large families.
In the 1930s, Germany's Nazis promoted the role of mothers as that of providing healthy children to the "Aryan race" plan. They also called the death of a son in war the highest embodiment of patriotic motherhood (Pop 'em out, lady, we need cannon fodder!).
UK's Mothering Sunday (fourth Sunday of Lent) comes from the C16th. Christian practice of visiting one's mother church annually in Lent. That meant most mothers would be reunited with their kids, when young apprentices were released by their masters for that weekend. It evolved to show appreciation to one's mother materially, although it's still recognised in the historical sense by some churches.
US soldiers brought their Mother's Day celebrations to the UK during WWII, and these merged with the Church of England's Mothering Sunday traditions. By the 1950s businesses smelt a great commercial opportunity and so it grew...chick-ching!
Here we give cards, gifts and breakfast-in-bed. You'd get the idea from all the advertising that mums want a new kitchen appliance for Mothers Day, to further bind them to the often-thankless domestic chores! To me, the most important thing is to let mum know she's loved, wanted and respected EVERY day. And if a gift accentuates that appreciation on Mothers Day, all well and good.
But for crying out loud, if you're dashing out today to buy her a gift, DON'T give her a bloody vacuum cleaner!

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