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Mum's the word - or is it?

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Jennifer | 17:46 UK time, Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Hi everyone, it's Jennifer here!

I hope you're all well. Here in the UK, people are gearing up to celebrate Mother's Day, which will be on Sunday 18th March.

It's a celebration which honours motherhood and for many sons and daughters, it's an opportunity to thank their mother for bringing them up.

Like many celebrations and festivals, Mother's Day - or Mothering Sunday - had religious roots here in the UK. In the sixteenth century, it was a day when children who had gone to work as domestic servants were given the day off to go home and visit their family.

Once a year, children would be permitted to go home and make a visit to their 'mother' church - that is, the church near their family's home - and on the way, many would pick violets or wild flowers to take to church, or to give to their mother.

Many countries have a specific day on which they honour and thank their mother, with similar roots in many religions and cultures. I suppose the matriarch is such an important figure in most types of society, it's no wonder that Mother's Day has developed in the way it has.

Nowadays it's an extremely commercial festive day, with some people spending hundreds of pounds on greetings cards, chocolates, flowers and presents for their mum. There's a lot of pressure to prove your love through the buying of fancy gifts. If you've got brothers and sisters, it can become a case of sibling rivalry or one-upmanship when it comes to buying the best present for Mum.

And that leads me on to my next Mother's Day observation. In English, it's rare to address the person that brought you into the world directly as 'Mother'. It's more common to call her 'Mum', or little ones might call her 'Mummy'; very little ones, 'Mamma'.

But I come from Newcastle, in the north-east of England, where the word 'Mum' would sound exceedingly posh and out of place. My mother is affectionately called 'Mam', and this spelling and pronunciation is common throughout many parts of the UK.

In the past, I've always felt a bit silly sending a greetings card with 'Thanks Mum' written on the front, as it just isn't what I would normally call her, so it didn't feel right. But, to my delight, on a recent trip home, someone has recognised a gap in the market for us northerners who want to spoil our mothers, and a card shop has introduced a whole new aisle of cards for 'Mam' and 'Mammy'.

A card shop in Newcastle

A card shop in Newcastle with 'Mam' cards.

On Sunday, I'll be sending flowers and a card, with a promise of a trip up north to see my 'Mam' very soon, but I hope that she thinks I'm a good daughter all year round, and not just on Mother's Day!

Do you celebrate Mother's Day in your country? I'd love to know what the traditions are in your culture, so get in touch and let me know!


gearing up to - preparing to
bringing them up - rearing them
matriarch - female head of the family
commercial - for profit
sibling rivalry - competition between brothers and sisters
one-upmanship - the act of trying to do something better than someone else
posh - upper-class
a gap in the market - an opportunity to sell something new


  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Jennifer !
    In Mexico we celebrate Mother´s Day as well but on May the 10th.
    Here we call her "mamá", "mami" or just "ma".

    Congratulations to all the Mothers !!!

  • Comment number 2.

    I hope you like the following;
    Hey, mother, if only to play, I´d become a champaca blossom and I´d open on the highest sprig of that tree,and I´d swing in stitches in the wind, and I´d dance over the new leaves, would you know I was there, mother? You´d call me: "Child, where are you?" and I´d chuckle and I´d keep still, I´d slowly open my leaves and I´d watch you work.
    When, after having a bath, you´d pass by with your wet hair opened on your shoulders, by the shade of the champaca to the little courtyard where you pray, you´d smell the scent of the flower, mother, but you would not know that it was leaving me. When after the meal you´d be sitting in the window reading the Ramayana, and the shade of my tree´d fall on your hair and skirt, I´d lay my little shadow on the sheet of your book, on the precise site that you were reading. But would you guess that it was your son´s shadow? When in the evening you´d go to the stable with the burning lamp, I´d suddenly drop on the ground and I´d be one more time time your child, and I´d ask you to tell me a story.

    "Where have you been, little rascal?" " I do not tell you, mother, we would say. "

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Jennifer

    As I see some poetical mood has been awoken by your blog and thinking our own mother.

    In Hungary we also celebrate this lovely day but on first Sunday of May.
    Children in the day-nurseries, kindergartens and younger school-children make some nice gifts and perform some poetries and songs honoring and thanking their mother.
    As a mother of two girls I can assure you that I am always very precautious with my eye make-up during these lovely performances.

    I would like to share you the best known little poem in translated form which is the most common stuff to be said on this day.

    I had a dream of flowers
    I was a Sunflower in my dream,
    You were the bright Sun
    who shone from Sunrise to Sunset.

    Though today is a Wednesday I wish all of us a nice Mothering Sunday.

    Krisztina from Hungary

  • Comment number 4.

    This is Krisztina again.


    I hope you will have opportunity to show us some nice photos of your African holiday some time.

    It is really nice to see - or 'read'- you here again.

    Sincerely yours

    Krisztina from Hungary

  • Comment number 5.

    Hello Jennifer,

    In Finland mothers day is always on the second sunday of May. This year it is on 13th of May. Here is a tradition to send a postcard and flowers to mother like it is in England. Roses are the most common flowers to mother on mothers day.

    Parents with small children celebrates mothers day little bit differently. Father and children makes a breakfast and sings a congratulation song for mother. Self made cards and a cake are the most common presents for mother. Mothers with adult children often goes to a restaurant to eat a good meal.

    In Finland mothers day means also a change between spring and summer. A warm period of year beginns after mothers day.

    It's soon summer and everyone feels happy again. Long and cold winter is soon behind.

    Sincerely yours
    - Ompputhecat -

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Jennifer,
    We South Koreans celebrate Parents' Day on May 8th every year. There's no separate Mother's Day or Father's Day. Since grown-up children are busy working in big cities during the weekdays, they usually visit their parents during the weekend and have dinner together. Married Korean women are expected to visit their in-laws before they visit their own parents.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Jennifer. I have liked very much the stories you have told about the Mother's Day and ist costumes in the past.
    We Spanish celebrate this day on first sunday of May, as in Hungary. It's above all a family celebration. A gift is given to mother ans it's usual to go out for lunch.
    Today, however, we celebrate Father's Day, on March 19th, because it's San José (Jesús' father). In some autonomous spanish regions it's holiday, but not in mine, so my husband is working and my chidren in school. In the afternoon we'll give some gifts to my husband and we four will go out for dinner.
    Today we spanish also celebrate the 200th First Spanish Constitution Anniversary, produced during French Invasion in the begining of 19th siecle. This Constitution was nicknamed "La Pepa", because "Pepe" and "Pepa" are the diminitutives of "José" and "Josefa", a very common first names in Spain.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hey Jennifer ,

    I think we must to celebrate with our mothers all over the year not one day only .


  • Comment number 9.

    I like your article so much, thank all mother in this world. Im in VietNam, in my country has not mother's Day but i think everyday all year are mother's day

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi, Jennifer,

    In Brazil, mothers day is always on the second Sunday of May. This year it is today. The most of people gives a little gift to mother. When the mother is death, it is commom to go to graveyard for a visit. Here we call mother 'mãe'.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi , Jennifer

    As a poet i don't give my mother a flower but a poem hehehe
    Thank you so much Jennifer

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi :)
    In Poland we celebrate Mother's Day every year on May 26th. We call our Mothers 'Mama'.
    This year, I'm going to clean up the entire house to make my Mum take a rest. Of course, we always give her some chocolates, flowers or both of them :)

    I'm new here, so please, forgive all my mistakes :)


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