"..a bardy view!"

Mothers Day and the British Empire…..

Different countries celebrate Mothers Day at different times.

In the USA and Canada it is decreed to fall on the second Sunday in May, which will always be between the 8th and 14th. Mothersdayimages This has been adopted by many other nations, but just as many follow the British example on the fourth Sunday in Lent. This means that it is much more variable, and is subject to when Easter falls.

Therefore in Britain it always occurs three weeks before Easter Sunday – hence it's official title of Mothering Sunday.

As Easter depends on the lunar cycle, Mothers Day in the UK can fall on any Sunday between March 1st to April 4th. This year – 2011 – the UK and some Commonwealth countries celebrate it on April 3rd, whilst the US and 53 other countries  will hold it on May 8th.

It's commonly accepted that Mothers Day in the US was instigated by Anna Jarvis, but Mothering Sunday in the UK had more religious connotations and can be traced back to Roman times. It became more religious over time with Catholic influences, but its significance diminished when Henry VIII decided to create the Church of England. But that's another story.

The rejuvenation of Mothers Day in the UK can be accredited to American and Canadian soldiers when they came over to prepare for D-Day in WWII. They were keen to observe the date, and naturally being so far from their  parents they were eager to send messages, gifts and cards back home. This rubbed off on the British and it gained a greater significance on the calendar.

It could be argued that the British Tommy was less sentimental and more accustomed to overseas deployment. They didn't wear their hearts on their sleeves.

Nevertheless, records of love, pain and hope were a common thread with soldiers in the First World War, but they were always tempered with reserve. It wasn't British to show emotion.

The stiff upper lip was part of the armoury. In 1944 things changed, and the sudden invasion of thousands of US soldiers clearly impacted significantly on the British psyche, and those chaps brought many traditions with them. Tommy

They were a shot in the arm for a nation which had been struggling proudly in adversity. It was an eye-opener which galvanised a proud people more akin to reverence of class and privilege.

Consider that a great empire, which forged the industrial revolution, ruled the waves and possessed more military might than any before, built their people on duty and discipline, had within 30 years fought and won two 20th century world wars, built schools, educated their subjects and provided a national health service. They abolished slavery, and spread the gospel. Not of religion like the Spanish, but of democracy, parliamentary government, laws and freedom.

No other empire did that. Nor did any before or since experience total war. Total war where Hitler,Stalin, Mussolini and the omnipotent emperor of Japan came together to create the "perfect war". The Romans ruled for hundreds of years, but they were never to encounter modern industrial warfare on such a global scale.

The world was lucky that Great Britain was around at the time.

It was a culture shock for the Yanks to visit the UK,  but remember that we had been fighting the Nazi's for two years prior – the British psyche was one of resilience, resolve and stamina.

Our pals from across the sea were a breath of fresh air and hope. They even had a supply of nylon stockings for the girls. They brought Hollywood and Camel filters for the masses.

So thanks for that you Yanks! Gigirl

The Mothers Day we celebrate today is far removed from that of our ancestors. Yes it is very commercialised. Yes we have adopted the Americanisation of a religious and historical event.  But like many traditions in the world today, they were given fuel and velocity by the Victorians. They took tradition, developed it, tailored it to suit the times, and used it for their advantage. The Americans did the same likewise.

The fact that Mothers Day is a commercial event on the calendar, just like Valentines Day which is second only to Christmas for capitalist entrepreneurship, should not be frowned upon. The original message may be lost, but It ensures the survival of the English language, it represents continuity and metamorphism.

A language or country which cannot evolve and adapt will die. We may not like the commercialisation and exploitation of events, but it keeps cultures alive.

It's not a pretty sight, and it's tantamount to globalisation. Dreamers will believe there is an alternative. It's been tried with communism, fascism, and feudalism. Democracy isn't perfect, and it doesn't suit everyone, but it does give freedom of speech.

So when, or if, you buy your mother a card, or indeed are fortunate to have a mother alive to honour, consider the history, and consider that this very simple act is merely a reflection on your progress in an ever changing and devoloping world.



March 23, 2011 - Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Events, History, Religion, Science, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. All I can say is, ‘the Yanks are late again’?


    Comment by Spook Moor | March 23, 2011 | Reply

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