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Mother's Day in Thailand

By Kevin Cain

Whilst Mother's Day is held dear in many cultures throughout the world, it is doubly special in Thailand being celebrated as it is on the Queen's birthday, August 12th,This is a day that rings forth with pageantry, emotion and beauty as Queen Sirikit is almost held in the same high esteem as her husband King Bhumibol Adulyadej who is deeply loved and revered by his people. Therefore Mother's Day takes on a highly significant place in the Thai calendar.

The Thai people tend to celebrate Mother's day in both a formal traditional manner and also as a fun event. Early in the morning the day will start by giving alms to the monks and showing respect. Schools typically host a Mother's Day ceremony, where students have meticulously practised for weeks rehearsing formal performances. On the appointed day, mothers come to their child's school and each pupil kneels at their mother's feet, paying respect and gratitude for all that she has done for them.

On this most special of days white jasmine flowers are a common sight in Thailand, as they are the symbol of maternal love. The white colour denotes the purity of a mother's true love, which will never change.

Throughout the world, Mother's Day is celebrated differently in different countries. For instance in China carnations are the most popular gift whilst in Samoa there are elaborate song and dance performances throughout the country.

But where do the origins of Mother's Day come from?

The celebrations seem to originate right back to ancient Greece and the old spring celebrations to honour Rhea, the Mother of the Gods.Ancient Romans also celebrated a spring festival called Hilaria dedicated to Cybele, a mother goddess. The celebration was made on the Ides of March by making offerings in the temple of Cybele and lasted for three days. Festivities included parades, games and masquerades, the celebrations were so notorious that followers of Cybele were banished from Rome.

Early Christians celebrated a sort of Mother's Day during the festival on the fourth Sunday of Lent. This was to honour the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ.

Much later came Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom, was traditionally a day for people to visit the church where they were baptised.

Nowadays the celebration of Mother's Day is more of a commercial affair and the modern day origins can be attributed to three women in the United States.

Around the 1880's a woman called Julia Ward Howe suggested that a celebration should be held annually for all mothers which petered out about ten years later.Around the same period, Juliet Blakely initiated Mother's Day in West Virginia and her sons dutifully paid tribute to her each year and urged other families to join in. And in 1907, Anna Jarvis held a private Mother's Day celebration in memory of her mother. She played a key role in arranging a church service that attracted over 400 children and their mothers.

Finally in 1912, a Mother's Day International Association was founded to promote the festival to other countries.

It is a common feeling now that Mother's Day is largely a commercialised celebration that mainly benefits card and gift companies, flower shops, restaurants and hotels all cashing in on the event. It is an interesting side note that Anna Jarvis unsuccessfully filed a lawsuit to stop the over-commercialisation of Mother's Day.

Mother's Day around the world.

Mexico – Celebrates on the 10th of May when the day is celebrated with gusto as churches organise special masses, a traditional meal of Tamales and Atole is also served as breakfast to the mothers.

Brazil – Brazil commemorates this special day on the second Sunday in May with lavish children's performances and church gatherings. Often large multi-generational barbecues and parties follow.

Peru – The indigenous Andean population celebrate the gifts of Mother Earth, or Pachamama, in early August. Pachamama is an ancient mythological goddess beloved by the Andeans as the bringer of fertility but also cited as the cause of earthquakes.The special day is called Martes de Challa.

Ethiopia – Mother's Day is celebrated at the end of the rainy season, as part of the three day Antrosht festival, dedicated to mums. Family members come with a large feast and daughters traditionally bring vegetables, butter, spices and cheese, whilst sons bring meat including a lamb or even a bull.

Serbia – Mother's Day takes part of a three day series of events in December. Firstly there is Children's Day, when kids are tied up and must agree to behave before they are unbound. On Mother's Day, it is the mum's turn to be tied up, where she remains until she supplies treats and small gifts to her children. Finally the dads are tied up until they give their families Christmas gifts.

The world over Mother's Day is celebrated, perhaps on different days and in different manners. But the emotion and love that ties families together is basically the same. It is a special day that serves as a reminder of what all mums do for their families every single day, and the honour they deserve because of it.