Mother’s Day is a holiday that has existed for ages in various forms. The modern incarnation was founded in 1908 by Anna Jarvis to try and honor her own mother. Unfortunately for Jarvis, she saw her attempt to provide a sentimental way to honor mothers overrun by corporate interests that turned into a commercial affair that horrified Jarvis. She spent the rest of her life trying to regain control of the holiday and return it to its intended roots. While most of us are used to what Jarvis fought against, the heart and soul of the idea remain alive around the world. Hopefully, there was some small comfort in that for Jarvis. These traditions often pre-date the 1908 holiday though other countries have adopted the younger holiday whether they had one or not. We’ll be taking a look at various Mother’s Day traditions around the world to give you a look into the many ways people honor their mothers.
Indonesia actually has a relatively modern origin for its Mother’s Day, but it began as a celebration of something else. Women have always been at the center of the day though as it helped to celebrate the country’s women’s congress. The goal was to honor and promote women’s active participation in building a better Indonesia. Its feminist origins gave the holiday a firm standing in Indonesian history that continues to hold true to this day. The holiday, celebrated in late December, is far closer to the Mother’s Day we all know these days. It celebrates a love of everyone’s mothers through gifts and quiet family celebrations. In many ways, this makes it relatively recognizable even if it is held at another time of year.
The UK actually has a historically interesting hybrid Mother’s Day that is a combination of an earlier church celebration with the more modern holiday that Anna Jarvis helped create. This celebration was originally derived from a church holiday designed to ensure mothers were allowed to be visited by their children at least once a year while undergoing apprenticeship. You can still detect the influence of the Christian church by noticing when the holiday is observed. It is held on the 4th Sunday in Lent. The celebration itself has much in common with the United States version of the holiday, but there is a tradition of preparing cakes to serve that day that is a holdover from the earlier traditions. The holiday is mostly driven by commercial forces now though. They are even credited as being the ones behind the holiday’s revival when it had previously fallen into disfavor.
Perhaps in keeping with the struggles of the country, Nepal’s equivalent of Mother’s Day is bound up in a sad tale of a man seeing his mother’s spirit in a pond. The area associated with the tale is known as the Mata Tirtha ponds. Despite a somewhat somber set of legends, the holiday itself is meant to honor all mothers whether living or dead. Those with living mothers honor them with visits and gifts. The goal being to express gratitude, love, and appreciation that their mothers yet live. People whose mothers have died will sometimes make a pilgrimage to the pond where the man in the legend supposedly saw his mother’s spirit as a way to honor them. The holiday falls on a day marked by a lunar rather than a solar calendar and comes at the end of one that commonly happens sometime in April and May depending on the year.
Mother’s Day is far more than the commercialized holiday that Anna Jarvis fought against after inspiring it. The tradition of honoring our mothers does predate that singular effective modern attempt though. Even more modern forms of the celebration tend to draw on pre-existing cultural holidays even if they’ve become mixed with the United States version of the holiday. With Mother’s Day approaching it is perhaps a good time to remember that she might appreciate a visit as well even if you’re living an otherwise busy lifestyle.