Last year I went on a bit of rant about the importance of motherhood and why it should be celebrated. I know many people think that these celebrations are just some invention from Hallmarks to sell cards, and generally, a consumeristic affair. The thing is, it doesn't have to be, it shouldn't be, and it wasn't to begin with.
Mother's day has been celebrated since Greek times, somewhat before Hallmarks and malls were around. It is celebrated in over 44 countries and in some cases the origin of the celebration dates as far back as a few centuries ago, like in the UK where the origins of what is more popularly known as Mothering Sunday dates back to a time when children were often sent away to work in other villages at a very young age. Mothering Sunday started off as a day when churchgoers were expected to visit their home or "mother" church during Lent, (a lot like the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca). The practice became quite popular, as it quickly turned into an excuse for family reunions and celebrations. Later, Mothering Sunday became a day when children and domestic servants were allowed a day off to see their families. Celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, Mothering Sunday remains a time to pay mothers their due respect for all their love and dedication with flowers, candies, cards, and other tokens of appreciation.
The most confusing thing about mothers day for an expatriate is trying to remember when you are supposed to be celebrated, and when you are supposed to call your own mother. These days often do not coincide. More than once I've been saved by the bell when with some well intentioned email or text reminding me to call...
Most commonly Mothers day is celebrated on the second Sunday of the month of May (United States, Australia, Belgium Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Netherlands, japan, Turkey and Ireland amongst others). But then in Spain and South Africa it's celebrated on the 1st Sunday of May, in Argentina on the 25th of October, France and Sweden celebrate it the last Sunday of May, the last day of spring in Lebanon, the 2nd Sunday of February in Norway, May 10 in Mexico, Bahrein, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Omar, Pakistan,Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Singapore, to name a few.
Most celebrations revolve around honoring the mother with gifts, (my personal favourite, the hand-made-falling-apart ones) and things like eating out so she wont have too cook, but some traditions are more fun than others. For example in India the Hindu people celebrate for ten days in a festival they call Durga Puja, named after the goddess who protects the people from evil and is also popularly known as The universal Mother.
Other celebrations are funny, like in Yugoslavia where children sneak into their mother's bedroom and tie her up in bed. When she awakes she has to promise to give the children gifts that she has hidden in order to be untied, (which really defeats the purpose of having one day when you -as a mother- are not at the mercy of the rest of the brood...), but never the less, if kept within reason can be lots of fun. Probably my favorite is Sweden, in a very nordic fashion, they sell little plastic flowers before Mother's Day and the money raised is used to send mothers with many children on vacation. Priceless!
I'm a big supporter of celebrations. I think life should be celebrated. Every day is a gift, and sadly every now and then we are reminded of the fragility of life and everything in it. So my advice is: go forth and celebrate every chance you get.
Happy mothers day y'all