May 10, 2011

May 10th: Mother's Day in Mexico

Feliz Día Mamá

Today is Día de las Madres (Day of the Mothers) in Mexico. Visitors to our country may spot small children acting in plays and presenting their thrilled mothers with handmade gifts. Every school and playgroup will have covered this one.

Meanwhile the older children, teenagers and adults will be rushing into shops to buy bouquets of flowers and a card. (Displays of cards with legends like 'Feliz Día de las Madres' or 'Feliz Día Mamá' are everywhere.) Some lucky mothers might even be getting something larger.

This is, after all, a day to honor and show appreciation to the woman who birthed and raised you.

Feliz Día Mamá

The origins of Mother's Day are steeped in antiquity; though the modern form is something new. It is thought that the seeds of this day weren't with biological mothers, but with the celestial ones. Before the coming of Christianity, many world religions had a Mother Goddess. This was the day to honor Her.

In Mexico, this might have been a day to worship Malinalxochitl, the primal Aztec Mother Goddess, Queen of Men and Beasts, and her sister, Toci, Mother of the Gods; or Mictecaciuatl, Mother Goddess of Mexico; or Tlazolteotl, the Maya goddess, who gave birth to the sun.

The coming of Christianity removed all of that, though it did bring with it traditions of their own. Until 1660, there had been a day, throughout Christendom, where everyone returned to their 'Mother Church', ie the church where they had been baptized. This was bedecked with flowers and donations were given. In 1660, a decree widened the honor of this day to include earthly mothers. For the first time in history, the woman who carried you in her womb could expect a bunch of flowers for her effort, on a certain day of the year.

Feliz Día Mamá

None of this actually caught on in Mexico. It wasn't until 1922, when a young journalist, inspired by celebrations in the USA and Europe, initiated the event. Rafael Alducín had founded the Excélsior newspaper just five years before. (This remains the second largest selling newspaper in Mexico today.) He wrote an article for it which suggested a national day to honor mothers.

Alducín was born in Puebla, but moved to Mexico City to further his education and gain employment. Rafael AlducínHe had travelled to the USA, as a dealer in tires, and had been exposed to Mother's Day there.

It had been estabilished for a few decades in the USA, as a way to reunite siblings separated by the Civil War. They had been encouraged to all visit their mother on the same day.

Later, after he was married to Consuelo Thomalen, Alducín travelled on business into Europe. He was in Germany, when he saw Mother's Day celebrations similar to those he had already witnessed in the USA.

Once back in Mexico, he mused upon suggesting such a day for his native country. He also looked around to see if anything like this was already being proposed.

Some cities in the North, influenced by the USA, had started to honor the day in tandem with their neighbours. Meanwhile, El Hogan - a women's magazine - and La Asociation de las Damas Catolicas (The Association of Catholic Women) were encouraging it, as a way to maintain tradition values in the home.

Alducín decided that there was an appetite for a Mexican Mother's Day, so he wrote his editorial naming May 10th as the date. It can only be assumed that his own mamá, Isabel Bedoya Rossainz y Huerta, was very proud of him.

Feliz Día Mamá

Día de las Madres is always on May 10th, in Mexico, regardless of what day of the week that falls. As well as the flowers, gifts and cards, everyone traditionally visits their mother on this day. Some arrive the night before, in order to be fresh and ready for a huge family reunion.

In many ways, the atmosphere can be akin to the American Thanksgiving, with a substantial meal and everyone making a big effort to be there for it. Though, of course, the thanks is due towards the center of the party - their mother. ¡Feliz Día de las Madres!

Feliz Día Mamá

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