If there’s one celebration that unites many cultures and countries across the world it’s the celebration of Mother’s Day. And, while it may not take place on the exact same date, from Europe to Asia, South America to Africa, mothers all over the globe share special days in their honor. In the United States, Mother’s Day was first adopted in 1870, and perhaps not surprisingly, for some of Mexico’s northern inhabitants who shared cross-border ties with the US, many northern Mexicans began to observe Mother’s Day at the same time. However, for the rest of Mexico, Mother’s Day as it is known today was first universally celebrated on May 10 1922.
Mexican mothers today owe their celebration to the journalist Rafael Alducin who wrote an article in the popular newspaper El Excelsior arguing that Mexican women deserved a special celebration and holiday in their honor. Part of a larger media campaign that was supported by the Catholic church, the magazine El Hogar and the Association of Catholic ladies, this campaign was part an attempt to protect traditional family values and promote women’s traditional roles as child bearers. With industrialization on the march, women gaining the right to vote and contraception becoming increasingly available many people were concerned that women were being diverted from what had been traditionally considered their essential role: becoming mothers. For many, a celebration of women’s traditional role as mothers was a necessary and important way to encourage motherhood and protect old values.
As a result of the campaign, the archbishop gave his sanction for the holiday and Mother’s Day was established. Given that the patron saint of Mexico is the Virgin of Guadalupe, it didn’t take long for the new Mother’s Day holiday to take on a religious connotation. Images of the Madonna or mother and child were used to illustrate Dia de las Madres cards and posters and church masses were established in celebration of Mother’s Day. El Hogar, the magazine which had strongly endorsed the adoption of Mother’s Day launched its first beautiful baby photo contest, and, it wasn’t long before the day became an important date on the calendar for all Mexican families. The political establishment even began to back the holiday and 1942, as World War Two blazed, Mexican mothers received a very important gift from the government. According to Time Magazine reports of the time, all sewing machines that had been sent to pawn shops had to be returned without any loan repayment.
As for today’s customs, unlike the United States, in Mexico Mother’s Day is celebrated on one fixed date on the calendar. This means that regardless of the day it falls, May 10 is always dedicated to celebrating mothers across the country. In the United States however Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. For many churchgoing families, Mother’s Day also includes a visit to church to worship at the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. In some areas children gather outside in the early hours of the morning to serenade their mothers. The song of choice? Las Mananitas, a traditional song that is also played on December 11, the day in which the Virgin of Guadalupe is celebrated. In fact, some wealthier families even hire mariachis to help sing to special mothers on Dia de las Madres. Today it’s also customary for children to gather at the family home on the eve of Mother’s Day (on May 9). And, just like in many other countries where Mother’s Day is celebrated, children and adults alike treat their mothers to special gifts, candy, chocolate and heartfelt Mother’s Day cards.
10 Facts About Mexican Mother’s Day
Quinceanera, Mother’s Day has a long and history in Mexico (Día de las Madres) is a national day of celebration! Mexican mothers are held in high esteem, so the holiday is filled with thoughtful gifts and traditions. Mexican Mother’s Day is unique; read on to learn more about the essential aspects of this special day.
In the United States, Mother’s Day is a “floating” holiday that occurs on the second Sunday in May. In Mexico, however, Mother’s Day is always celebrated on May 10th, no matter what day of the week it is. If Mother’s Day falls on a weekday, the schools, workplaces, and churches have special festivities instead of their usual teachings or activities.
Mother’s Day in Mexico is a celebration of two mothers: the one that raised you, and the sacred Virgin of Guadalupe. This iconic figure (akin to the Virgin Mary) represents the religious mother of all Mexicans, and thus is an extremely important figure in their faith. Bouquets of flowers are placed at her altar, and many people travel to worship at the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Mother’s Day in Mexico begins on the evening before May 10th, when children come home to spend time with their mothers. The night of May 9th is customarily spent preparing for the upcoming festivities, and paying respect to mothers. Adult children should travel to their mother’s home on May 9th, or at least call their mom that evening.
Mexican mothers are woken up with a special song on Mother’s Day: Las Mañanitas! Small children might serenade their mothers with this tune on the morning of May 10th, but affluent families sometimes hire mariachi bands to perform the song. Las Mañanitas is also used as a birthday tune, but it has special significance when sung to mothers on Día de las Madres.
Almost every culture that settled in Mexico had their own version of tamales, and thus the food has been incorporated into many different rituals and holidays. Mexican chefs say that tamales can only be prepared when music is playing, so the festivities start early whenever tamales are cooking! Different fillings and types of wrappers (usually husks or leaves) each represent a different deity or ritual.
No Día de las Madres fiesta would be complete without steaming cups of atole. This drink is similar to hot chocolate, but it is prepared with corn meal. Vanilla, sugar, Mexican brown sugar (piloncillo), and cinnamon are added to this sweet and comforting treat. Legends say that atole brings strength to elders, and helps new mothers produce milk for nursing babies. As such, it is a delicious and meaningful aspect of Mother’s Day in Mexico.
Most Mexican churches offer an early morning Mother’s Day mass for patrons to enjoy. The Virgin of Guadalupe is honored with prayers, and an orchestra or mariachi band performs Las Mañanitas. Churches also hand out tamales and atole to mothers as a traditional breakfast on their special day. This ritual has helped Mexican Mother’s Day stay closely associated with the church throughout the years.
Some Mother’s Day traditions – like giving mom a gift – transcend cultures. Mexican mothers are presented with flowers, candy, cards, and homemade crafts on May 10th. The thought behind the gift is the most important part, but many children save up for weeks so they can buy their mom something special. Teachers will usually help kids with Mother’s Day crafts, so everyone can show their madres how much they care.
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