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For Mother’s Day

This coming Sunday, 11th March, is celebrated here in the UK as Mother’s Day. This day has longstanding religious tradition and history behind it, although you’d be forgiven for not noticing that nowadays. These traditions vary, depending on the religion. Here the day is actually recognised in the church calendar as Mothering Sunday, and falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent. Because Easter is early this year, this means that for the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Irish Republic and Nigeria, who use this date, Mother’s Day is also earlier than in some years. There are in fact 32 different dates around the world on which Mother’s Day is celebrated, the most commonly used of which is the second Sunday in May, which is the day in North and South America, and across large parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. The modern version was first celebrated in the USA in 1908, after a campaign by a lady called Anna Jarvis to have a designated day for mothers. Commercialisation began in the 1920s, when Hallmark began selling cards, and Jarvis was arrested for a public protest against this. But the date and nature of the celebration have since been widely adopted.

The commercialisation of the date means that it is ubiquitous. Apart from all of the advertising which uses the day as the basis for promotion – often in incredibly dubious and convoluted ways – there are TV programmes, articles in papers and magazines etc, which are very difficult to avoid unless you become a hermit. And in this modern technological age, I’d also need to stop checking my emails too. Some of the bombardment is unbelievable: I even had an email the other day from a clothing company which only sells men’s clothing, inviting me to purchase one of a choice of outfits to wear when celebrating with my mother, from the formal suit to go to the posh lunch to smart casual if cooking her a meal at home, complete with an apron!

Mother’s Day is a hard one for me. My Mum died nearly ten years ago, on 15th May 2008 and, whilst the immediacy of the feelings of loss is somewhat diminished by the passage of time, those feelings are still there. Many millions have lost their mother, and could do without the commercial juggernaut reminding us of what we have lost and what we could have otherwise been doing. It’s a difficult time of year. I find myself wishing that all of the companies stuffing this down my throat would roll up their promotional material very tightly and insert it where the sun doesn’t shine. And I’d bet I’m not alone in that. I shall be spending this Sunday in quiet reflection, remembering the person who brought me into this world and all that she did for me. I don’t need any marketing to tell me how to do that. I find myself agreeing with Anna Jarvis: this should be a day to celebrate our mothers, not to spend loads of money. Whilst the cards, flowers, chocolates and wine – especially the wine! – may be very welcome, do mothers really need this to know that they are appreciated? Wouldn’t telling them, face to face, be much better? And doing things for them, to show them that you care? Not just on Mother’s Day either: our mothers are very special people and deserve to know that our love for them is always there, with or without the giving of physical gifts on a particular day to make the statement for us.

If you’re going to be spending Mother’s Day with your Mum, I hope you – and she – have a fantastic day, full of the joy that families give us. And long may you be doing that: the happiness of days like Sunday will build into cherished memories. To repeat myself: Mums are special people, they deserve our love.

 

Mum, Dad, my sister, a cousin (top) and me, c.1960 I think.

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  1. March 8, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    For some, separating the commercial aspect of the day from the intended purpose is perplexing. There are those who don’t know the difference, what it means to celebrate and appreciate without resorting to solutions based in capitalistic tendencies. Which is a shame.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 9, 2018 at 10:35 am

      Spot on, Stuart. Sadly, I think the commercial aspects are too engrained in our society for that to change. We need to find better ways of showing people that we care about them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. March 8, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    It’s hard for me too, as Mum died on 5th March last year. It’s there for profiteering and to hell with people’s feelings.

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 8, 2018 at 2:56 pm

      I know, it must be very difficult for you and that commercial reminder is always going to be there – as if you needed it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. March 8, 2018 at 10:42 am

    These Hallmark hijacked holidays are not a good thing in my view. My mother (who I am fortunate is still living) has always forbidden us to do anything for Mothers Day, reminding us that we should not be bulldozed into buying and lining the pockets of the cynical but rather do what we want to do when the mood takes us. The reminder to those who have lost their mums, like you, is another reason that I wish it would just go away. Take good care, Clive at what is a difficult time for you xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 8, 2018 at 10:58 am

      Thank you, as ever, for your kind words and support. Hallmark were the first to set the commercial bandwagon rolling and have a lot to answer for. xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 8, 2018 at 11:02 am

        Yup, they do. I refuse to buy from them 🙂 xx

        Liked by 1 person

  4. March 8, 2018 at 12:23 am

    We celebrate Mother’s Day on May 10 (or thereabouts). It was always a big day for my family of 7, with everyone competing about who will do the most for her…she was well loved! She has been gone for 6 years, and I miss her. Thanks for this lovely piece, Clive.

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 8, 2018 at 10:18 am

      When I researched this, I was amazed at how many different dates there were for the celebration. You are part of by far the largest group, which marks the day on the second Sunday in May. There doesn’t seem to be any obvious reason for this, unlike the religious link here and in some predominantly Catholic countries. Go figure! I’m sorry for your loss, too, and hope you have a good day 😊

      Like

  5. March 7, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    I forbid my children from succimbing to any perceived pressure to send cards or presents for this day. I don’t need them and they certainly could use the money more constructively. I’m sorry you lost your mum, I think these commercial dates are very hard to bear for children and parents alike, young and not so young. 💜

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 8, 2018 at 10:12 am

      For once I actually find myself in agreement with the church on something! My stepmother is a vicar and they put on a special mothering day service, highlighting the important things, not the commercial ones. I think it’s telling that so few countries actually celebrate the day in this way: commercialism wins, sadly.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. March 7, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    I agree with you Clive that it is hard for those of us who have lost our mums. Unfortunately Mothers Day and Valentines Day…have become very commercialised.

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 7, 2018 at 6:13 pm

      Thank you Brigid. Indeed they have. It’s so sad, really, as the point rather gets swamped by it all. But I’m sure mums know they’re loved and valued 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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