Last weekend we celebrated Mother’s Day Down Under. Shops were busy pushing every and any product as the “perfect gift”, florists ran around unable to recall such excitement since Valentine’s Day and the back of Sydney buses suggested you hadn’t spoilt your Mum unless you’d bought her tickets to the local footie game!
My husband and I have always a bit dismissive of the heavy commercialization of these days, but since we’ve become parents we’ve softened a little. Sunday saw me spoilt with cards, a present and being taken out for breakfast, and what’s more, I loved it. And so I take my place in the long line of mothers who appreciate being appreciated, and have made a promise to myself that I will endeavor to generate a similar experience for my husband later on in the year for Father’s Day (another occasion I have maybe too hastily dismissed in the past), as well as being better at remembering Mother’s Day’s different date in the UK (sorry Mum!).
Being a parent, mother or father, is a wonderful thing, and a role that you don’t do for recognition. But to receive a bit of gratitude for what you do every so often means a lot, which is why I suppose, both these days have historical roots. Many countries around the globe including India, Thailand and China, have some form of Mother’s Day celebrations derived from varying historical origins. Ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated the concept of Motherhood with festivals for Cybele, the Great Mother. Early Christians in Europe put aside dates to commemorate mothers and in England servants were given the day off to return home to their mothers and their mother church. In the US, women such as Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis fought hard for the official recognition of both women and mothers and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother’s Day an official national holiday (sadly only the day, not the official holiday has spread here to Australia!).
Father’s Day may have a less global and historical past, officially beginning it’s journey to recognition in the US when a certain Senora Smart Dodd of Washington was attending a Mother’s Day sermon and decided that there should be similar recognition of fathers. The official acknowledgement of Father’s Day took many years, despite a bill being introduced in 1913, once again by President Wilson to make it official. The suggestion was turned down by Congress for fear of commercialization. It was eventually President Nixon in 1972 who gained recognition for the day as an official national holiday (again, the holiday part doesn’t exist here in Oz!)
So whilst it might be true that florists, card companies and commercial outlets maybe somewhat responsible for the growth in popularity and maintaining of interest and, perhaps, overindulgence of these days, they are not responsible for their origins and foundations, nor for the feeling that I get when my family say Thank You, we appreciate You. So from now on, that’s what I’m going to concentrate on. These days are about those who are special to me being made to feel special.