‘A mother is someone who, on seeing only 4 pieces of chocolate cake for 5 people, will be the first to say that she doesn’t really like chocolate.’ In Latin America, a mother plays an important role as self-sacrificing goddess and center of the family. Women are sacred and revered, and the mothers are the most revered of all. It is no wonder, then, that Mothers Days across Central and South America are major days of celebration and thanks.
In Mexico, Mother’s Day is celebrated on May 10th. When ‘Dia de la Madre’ falls midweek, mothers often take the day off work and children stay home to spend time with their mama. Traditions on this day include waking mother up with a traditional song then presents, flowers and general pampering for the day. Schools will invite mothers to performances of songs and dances, many businesses also offer small gifts and mementoes to show their appreciation of mothers in general. In more traditional areas, the whole family gather around the grandmother for a day of eating, drinking, singing and family togetherness. Everywhere you will see a lot of flowers on Mother’s Day especially in churches, cemeteries and family homes.
In Panama, Mother’s Day is celebrated on December 8th to tie in with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This is in recognition of the connection between Mary, the mother of Jesus and mothers everywhere. There are local festivals and dances and religious parades. Some say, thought, that the day was chosen to coincide with an important religious festival in order to make it a national holiday.
In some countries Mothers day is tied to the mother country (la patria). In Bolivia, May 27th, also commemorates the Battle of Coronilla, in the Bolivian War of Indpendence. During the battle, hundreds of women fighting for independence were slaughtered by the Spanish in the city of Cochabamba.
In Paraguay, May 15th is a celebration of both mothers and the independence of Paraguay. The date was chosen in recognition of the role played by Juana Maria de Laura in the independence struggles. Not a happy combination for the Paraguayan Minister of Culture who, in 2008 complained that the day of Independence was regularly overshadowed by the celebrations of mothers and asked for the date to be changed.
In Argentina, mother’s day is celebrated in October. Since Argentina has an austral summer, October coincides with the arrival of spring. Mothers are associated with spring and the arrival of new life into the world. It is no coincidence that north of the equator many countries such as Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Peru and Colombia celebrate Dia de la Madre in spring like May.
In Ecuador, Mother’s Day begins with a serenade. Trucks of men and boys travel the countryside, guitars in hand to sing outside the houses of their mothers. The grateful mothers will hand them glasses of Canelazo – the local liquor. After a few glasses of this local alcohol, the romantic songs for mothers and the emotion that a Latino Man’s love for his mother can produce; you can be sure there are plenty of tears before daybreak.
Wherever you travel in South and Central America you will be delighted by the strength of family ties and the joy of celebration.
Into Latin America would like to wish mothers everywhere a Happy Mothers Day for April 3rd when mothers are celebrated in the UK.