Happy Mother’s Day! 母親節快樂! Mu qin jie kuaile!”
Festivals to honor mothers have a long history. It is said that in Ancient Greece, an annual spring festival was dedicated to Rhea, mother of many deities in Greek mythology, to celebrate motherhood. Later, Ancient Romans followed the tradition by celebrating a similar spring festival called Hilaria, which was dedicated to Cybele, a mother goddess herself, and was marked with parades, games and masquerades.
New religions adapted the celebration to venerate mothers. Early Christians, for example, celebrated the Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ, on the fourth Sunday of Lent. As centuries went on, the celebration was expanded to include all mothers.
In China, Mothers’ Day celebrations had been set for the second Sunday of the fourth lunar month, to coincide with the birth of Confucian philosopher Mencius, whose mother has been considered as epitome of maternal devotion and love and a legendary woman who is seen as a role mother to other mothers.
In 1997, The People’s Republic of China, declared the second Sunday in May to be Mothers’ Day, coinciding with similar celebrations in many other countries. The holiday was set to remind everyone of the sacrifice of poor mothers in rural areas, and remark on the upholding of the tradition of respect for the elders, especially parents. Parades, fireworks and concerts are held to celebrate the occasion.
An initiative and fundraising program called “Project Happiness” was also established to raise money to help mothers in China’s poor areas to combat poverty, illiteracy and poor health conditions. The initiative is said to have helped over 150,000 mothers in the past few years, providing not only medical assistance but also vocational training, which has helped many start their own businesses. Additionally, each year, a ceremony is held at the Great Hall of the People in Central Beijing to honor ten outstanding mothers for their extraordinary devotion and love.
In China’s major cities, carnations have become the significant flower for Mothers’ Day. Their dense petals symbolize a mother’s care and love. However, historians hope for a return of the lily, which in ancient tradition was planted when a child left the ancestral home.
Although traditions may change with time and places, the truth is that all cultures revere the mother for the unconditional love she gives each and everyone one of her children.
Yu’s Garden Chinese Restaurant wishes all mothers a “Happy Mother’s Day–母親節快樂–Mu qin jie kuai le!”