Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mothers' Day

It's Mothers' Day here in Australia. It's a bittersweet day in some ways for me because my mother passed away in 2011. On the other hand, it was lovely to have a visit from my children including a small grandchild who handed me a present wrapped in personalised (decorated by hand) wrapping paper. Aww.

Like most mothers I know, this is all I want for Mothers' Day. Unfortunately, that's not how businesses see it. The commercialisation is rampant and while I don't mind that Mothers Day provides a once a year bonanza for flower growers, I'm constantly appalled at the tasteless advertising. Honestly, if someone gave me a vacuum cleaner or a microwave for Mothers' Day - or any other gift-giving occasion for that matter - I would be tempted to throw it back at them. I wouldn't, of course. I was brought up to smile politely and say thank you no matter how appalling the gift but I wouldn't be surprised if not everyone behaved in that way. 

The idea of a day to honour mothers dates back to Roman times but Mothers' Day as we now know it began in the United States in May 1908 when Anna Jarvis decided there should be a day devoted to mothers and marked by the gift of a white carnation and lobbied to have it recognised officially. Sadly commercialisation began very quickly and in later life Anna Jarvis came to regret she had ever started it.

Here, coming as it does in autumn, Mothers Day is right in time for the flourish of flowers that comes before winter sets in. While the season means chrysanthemums (not carnations) are the traditional choice in Australia - roadside stalls pop up all over the place with buckets of cut flowers for sale - it's also a time when cymbidiums, zygo cacti and early cyclamens are in flower so pots of these are also very popular. Not everyone sticks to these, though, and Virgo broke with tradition this year to give me a potted lilium - and very lovely it is too.


Satima Flavell said...

It's a pity Ms Jarvis didn't do her homework. There is already a festival in England called 'Mothering Sunday', the fourth Sunday in Lent, when everyone in a particular parish would go the parish's mother church. They gradually started to associate it with real mothers, too, and that's the original Mother's Day. But for some reason here in Oz we've taken Ms Jarvis's version on board, along with all the commercialised hype that has grown up around it.

Helen V. said...

We had an English Rector when I was growing up, Satima, and he incorporated Mothering Sunday into the parish calendar, simnel cake and all, so I knew both from an early age.

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