It’s Like This

Updated: May 11, 2018

Mom’s day

By Bob Palmer

Would you like a card, a carnation or a tamale for Mother’s Day?

Your answer probably depends more on geography than your personal taste.

You may already know how Anna Jarvis helped launch Mother’s Day in 1912. The movement became so wide-spread and powerful; President Wilson signed the law making the second Sunday in May a day set aside to honor mothers.

It should be noted that Jarvis was very specific about the spelling of this holiday. It was to be Mother’s Day, singular and possessive. The idea was to recognize the maternal leader of each family, not just mothers in general.

Mother’s Day in the United States is neither the first nor oldest celebration of motherhood.

In ancient times, both Greeks and Romans set aside days to honor mothers.

The oldest continuous celebration of Mother’s Day belongs to Britain and Ireland where the fourth Sunday of Lent is used. Since the 16th Century, servants have been given a day off to attend church with their mothers on that Sunday.

While the second Sunday in May is the most popular date for Mother’s Day, it is far from being the only day that is used.

The earliest date designated to honor mothers on the calendar is actually a post-Christmas celebration. Greeks use Feb. 2. It’s the date on the Orthodox Church calendar noting the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Greeks feel it is also a good time to honor their mothers.

Dec. 22 in Indonesia is the last date in the year for mothers.

Mexico also uses a fixed date. It is May 10 which this year coincides with the second Sunday date in the United States.

In Mexico, mothers traditionally receive tamales and atole, a warm drink made with corn flower, vanilla and cinnamon. A Hispanic friend tells me any occasion, from birthdays to Christmas, is a good time for tamales and atole, but they also work for Mother’s Day. Flowers and presents may also be given.

Mother’s Day is even catching on in China, where a carnation has become a popular gift.

Of course mothers in the United States receive gifts, flowers and cards.

Mother’s Day has become a world-wide celebration. No matter the gift, the message is the same, “Thanks, Mom. We love you.”

You know? Tamales do sound pretty good.