Mother’s Day was once a celebration without commercials from jewelers and chocolate companies and can be traced to festivities practiced all over the world.
Arguably the oldest record of a Mother’s Day comes from the ancient Greek and Roman goddess of fertility Cybele, or Magna Marta, and the celebration Hilaria, which still takes place during the month of March. According to the Oxford English dictionary, the original celebration involved over two weeks of merriment and a bull sacrifice.
The Buddhists in Taiwan also have an ancient tradition of celebrating Mother’s Day in addition to two other holidays: Buddha Day and Tzu Chi Day. The celebration of all three stems from the belief in the three fields of wisdom. Mother’s Day is to celebrate the field of gratitude, thankfulness and honor, while Buddha Day and Tzu Chi day is for the field of reverence and compassion, respectively.
In India, the Hindu people celebrate for ten days in a festival called Durga Puja. Durga is the name of a goddess who protects the people from evil also known as the universal mother.
Nepal celebrates Mother’s Day with “Mata Tirtha Aunshi,” or the mother pilgrimage fortnight, which is similar to the American tradition to visit mothers the second Sunday in May, although this journey references Lord Krishna’s mother Devaki.
In England, Mother’s Day and the Mothering Sunday celebrations are commonly confused. The tradition began back when it was custom to visit their home or mother church once a year on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Children and servants worked and lived very far from home, so the celebration became an opportunity for the family to reunite once a year. It is said that the children would pick up flowers from the countryside on their way home to give to their mother. The celebration is often called Simnel Sunday because of the traditional fruit cake covered in marzipan traditionally eaten around the same time.
Alex Taylor, a public health major from Sandy, served his mission in England and has since visited several times.
“Brits are less sentimental than Americans, but cards are a big deal over there on Mother’s day,” Taylor said.
Germany and France during the 1920s, had the lowest birthrates in Europe as reported by VoxEU.org, a research based policy analysis website. According to Michelle Muton, a historian and writer of a book on Nazi intervention on motherhood, Germany began awarding the Mother’s Cross or MutterKreuz, depending on how many children they had. “Muttertag” was once a day to celebrate the idealized standard of a woman. It was not until the American influence that Mother’s Day became what it is today in Germany.
Similarly in France, the holiday was once celebrated to elevate the birthrate. France now celebrates much the same way as the U.S. but traditionally will receive a cake in the shape of a bouquet of flowers.
Flowers are a traditional Mother’s Day gift in many countries around the world. An article written in the China Daily indicated that, although the western culture has affected many of their celebrations, the Chinese people still hold on to ancient traditions. They have transitioned from celebrating with carnations, the tradition flower given on Mother’s Day in western culture, to lilies; which were planted by Chinese mothers when children left home. Australian mothers are traditionally given chrysanthemums because of their natural blooming season and because the common term for ‘mother’ down under is “mum.” The Red Cross sells plastic flowers in Sweden to help needy mothers and their children.
Perhaps one of the more humorous ways to celebrate Mother’s Day is in Yugoslavia, where the event is a three-part series. On the first Sunday in December, parents tie up their children until the children promise to be good. The following Sunday it is the mother’s turn to be tied up until she promises to give her children candy and gifts. The third Sunday the father is tied up until he promises presents that are eventually seen Christmas Day.
In Spain, where Michael Cureton, a finance major is currently studying, the holiday is celebrated in coordination with the catholic day of the Immaculate Conception, the day the Virgin Mary was conceived.
“From what I’ve seen, they use it as a time to bring the whole family together and enjoy a meal and each others company,” said Cureton.
It does not seem to matter where you are in the world, Mother’s Day has a long tradition of flowers, homemade art and tying mother up until she gives you treats. Although the latter may not be widely practiced, flowers, gifts and phone calls are traditionally accepted. So wherever you are in the world, don’t forget your mother brought you into it.