International Observance: More Than Flowers For Mom

SUNDAY, MAY 9: No matter what the language, people around the world are united in expressing: “Thank you, Mom!” In the United States and many countries, it’s Mother’s Day. Historical origins are diverse, but the modern Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in the early 20th century. Jarvis was inspired by both her own mother and a sermon she heard that paid tribute to mothers. It is recorded, however, that she was very specific about the location of her apostrophe. “Mother’s Day” was to be singular possessive, meaning that each family would do something to honor each individual mother as opposed to lifting up all moms in a general way. (Kids can find craft ideas, poems and more at Kaboose.)

Nearly every country and culture in the world honors moms in some way during the year, often linking those observances to faith traditions. But the second weekend in May is the most popular time and is honored in nearly 80 countries from Australia to Zambia. (Wikipedia has more.)

In Europe, Mothering Sunday was a day for devotees to visit their “mother church,” or the primary church of the area. (Mothering Sunday still exists, although its observance has evolved over time, and this year was marked in March.) In Hindu tradition, the new moon day in the month of Baisakh—which usually falls in April or May in the Gregorian calendar—is celebrated as Mata Tirtha Aunshi, or “Mother Pilgrimage fortnight.” Legends surrounding Mata Tirtha Aunshi involve Lord Krishna and his mother. In Greece, Mother’s Day occurs on the Eastern Orthodox feast day of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, since the Theotokos—Virgin Mary—brought Jesus to the Temple; and in Panama, a day for mothers falls on the day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

If you feel that, here in the U.S., Mother’s Day seems more like a Hallmark Holiday than one of religious significance—well, you’re not alone. Even by the time Anna Jarvis died in 1948, it’s recorded that she regretted how commercialized her holiday had become. According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year for eating in a restaurant! Flower sales, greeting card sales and candy sales aren’t far behind.

If you’d like to make Mother’s Day a little more personal, try your hand at a brunch or dinner recipe, courtesy of Kaboose. If your mom loves movies, both Virgin Media and Kaboose have a list of their Top 10 Mother’s Day movies! Just a note: We recommend Virgin Media for moms with older kids, and Kaboose for moms with younger kids. If you need to feel inspired for that personalized greeting card, check out 50 Inspirational Quotes from Aristotle, Abraham Lincoln and Ralph Waldo Emerson, on the site for the Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India. If you’re looking for inspiration, too, because your mother has passed away, MSNBC offers an article on transforming Mother’s Day from a time of grieving to a time of healing.

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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