The second Sunday in May (the 9th of May in 2010) is Mother’s Day – a day when New Zealanders take the time to remember, and express thanks for, everything our mothers have done for us.

The History of Mother’s Day

The idea of “the Mother” has been celebrated since ancient Greek and Roman times. In Greece the maternal goddess Rhea was venerated. In Rome a spring festival known as Hilaria was held in honour of the mother goddess Cybele.

In 17th Century England, Mothering Sunday was celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the occasion came to include tributes to mothers in general.

More Recently

In the United States in the 1870s Julia Ward Howe, a poet and activist opposed to the American Civil War, proposed that an annual Mother’s Day celebration be held every 2nd of June and dedicated to peace.

Several decades later, a woman named Anna Jarvis began campaigning for an official Mother’s Day in order to recognise and honour the contributions made by all mothers in the United States. The idea was popular and attracted many supporters. By 1911 Mother’s Day was celebrated across the USA and on the 8th of May, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson decreed that the second Sunday in May be designated “Mother’s Day”.

During World War Two American armed forces were stationed in many parts of the world, bringing with them their traditions and customs. In this manner the modern-day notion of celebrating a Mother’s Day spread across the globe and is now recognised in more than 40 countries.

Celebrating Mother’s Day

In New Zealand, celebrating Mother’s Day is all about showing our mothers how much we value their love and care. There are many ways we can demonstrate this, from a simple kind word and a kiss to gifts and special meals. If you’d like a few ideas for something special you can do for your mother this Mother’s Day, check out the suggestions below.

  • Buy some flowers for her. Perhaps make it more of an occasion by having them delivered.
  • Anything scented usually goes down a treat. Special soap, bath oil, lotions or perfume are all gifts that can make the day memorable.
  • If you can afford it, taking your mother away somewhere nice overnight is a wonderful Mother’s Day surprise.
  • At the other end of the scale, but expressing no less love, are the things you can do around the house. Make her breakfast in bed, do all the housework and cleaning that day, cook dinner so your mother can have a day of pure relaxation.
  • If you don’t live with your mother, make a surprise visit on Mother’s Day and take her out to lunch.
  • If you can’t visit send a card. One you’ve made yourself shows far more care than the overly commercialised versions for sale in the shops.
  • Make a home video with your siblings expressing respect and love for your mother, play it for her on Mother’s Day.
  • Gather as a family and go through old photo albums, reliving all those times that drew you close together.
  • Throw a Mother’s Day party. Invite your mother’s friends – they’re probably mothers themselves.
  • Make your mother a CD containing all her favourite tunes.
  • Write a poem expressing your feelings for her.
  • Present her with a taste-bud-pleasing box of chocolates.

Mother’s Day Thoughts

In the end, it doesn’t matter what you buy your mother, the important thing is to do something out of the ordinary, something to let her know that you’ve thought of her and how special she is to you. A hug, a kiss, a kind word or a quiet walk together can all make a mother’s spirits soar.

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