The Origin of Mother’s Day in Hispanic countries

Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May in the United States as well as other Latin American countries, but where did this celebration originate? Was it purely created for marketing purposes? The truth is that the origin of Mother’s Day goes way back in history and back then had little to do with buying flowers or greeting cards to Mom.

Ancient History and Mother’s Day

The first reference found in history related to Mother’s Day comes from Northern Africa. Egyptians would gather to honor the great goddess Isis, who associate with women and fertility. When Osiris, her consort, was murdered and chopped into 13 pieces, Isis put his body back together, which impregnated her by his essence.

Later on in ancient history, the Greeks also honored one of their main goddesses, Rhea, who was the mother of Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. Just like Isis, Rhea was not only the mother to some of their main gods but was also considered the goddess of fertility and Mother Earth. Romans adopted the mythology and traditions of the Greeks, and later on, with the conversion to Christianity, they took these traditions and started adoring and honoring the Virgin Mary instead.

Mother’s Day in Recent History

To start seeing a glimpse of what today’s Mother’s Day would eventually end up becoming, we have to jump to the 17th century. Queen Elizabeth I established a day to honor all women who had become mothers. She recognized this as a holiday and allowed peasants to enjoy a day off with their families. Mothers would receive their children, even if they were living far away. They would decorate the home with flowers and sweets and spend the day together. This day was also used to help those in need by carrying out charitable acts.

Many British traditions eventually came to the United States, and the idea of continuing a celebration that honored mothers grew stronger. It wasn’t, however, until President Wilson was in office in 1914 that Mother’s Day became an officially recognized day.

The Aztecs Also Honored Maternity

Pre-Columbian civilizations have also honored mothers throughout history. Aztec deity Coyolxauhqui or Tonantzin, mother of god Huitzilopochtli, was worshiped as the mother of all gods and goddesses.

Mexican legend holds that goddess Coyolxauhqui was murdered while pregnant with Huitzilopochtli because he was to become the Sun god, and he represented a threat to the underworld. Despite the murdering, Huitzilopochtli was born alive and because of this, not only was he worshiped, but his mother also held a special place for the Aztecs. She was honored with various rituals and festivities that took place at Tepeyac, a hill belonging to the Guadalupe mountain range. It was here where a small shrine was created for Tonantzin first and where the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin.

Different Dates, Same Meaning

Today, most nations celebrate Mother’s Day in May. However, each country celebrates it on a different day. While many of them do so during the second Sunday of May, some have chosen different dates to honor their mothers.

Since we have mentioned Mexican history, it is important to note that the North American country celebrates Mother’s Day on May 10. It was in 1922 when this date became official after the director of a newspaper decided to declare it a holiday. Some people, however, state that in Mexico this day responds to a feminist movement. Today Mother’s Day, or Día de la Madre in Spanish, also has a religious meaning, and in addition to celebrating moms, Mexican Catholics also honor the Virgin of Guadalupe.

In Spain, Mother’s Day has been celebrated during the first Sunday of May since 1965. While not declared an official holiday, this day has become popular among Spaniards who usually honor their mothers by buying flowers and spending the day together.

Lastly, there are two other Latin American countries that celebrate Mother's Day on different dates: Panama does so on December 8, also known as the day of the Immaculate Conception for Catholics.  In Bolivia, Mother’s Day has a revolutionary background as it is celebrated on May 27 to honor the female Coronilla Heroes, who confronted the army during the country's war for independence.

Mother’s Day is celebrated differently and on different days, but the meaning is the same regardless of the country. Honor your Mother’s this coming Sunday, and celebrate with her.

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