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Mother’s Day in China

by guhuachen (05/07/08).
Nuba Patching the Sky
Daylily

The U.S. Mother’s Day (second Sunday of May) is approaching. This day became known and observed by some people in China in late 1980’s. And it is becoming more and more popular.

Things people do to celebrate Mother’s Day in China
They write. They write their memories of their childhood, the love they got from their mothers, the occasions when they enjoyed mother’s love and so on. They write their good wishes to their mothers for good health, long life and happiness and so forth.

One has confessed that he has written to his mom, “Dear Mom, your mischievous son has grown up and won’t let you worry about him any more. Since you have retired, please go for an outing when you are free. Don’t care too much about money. Your son will earn it for you. Your festival is coming and I wish you good health and a youthful heart that enjoys happiness every day.”

Some people would recall their nursery rhymes to express their love for their mothers. One of the rhymes reads like this:

Of all the bowls of rice, the one my Mom has filled is my favorite;
Of all the clothes, the one my Mom has sewed is my favorite;
Of all the roads, the one leading to my Mom’s house is my favorite.

They would think of these to remember their mom’s selfless love for them.

Many people would buy carnations for their moms. People think that carnations are the flower for mothers. But in China, there is a special flower for mothers, the daylily. According to legends, if the expectant mother wears a daylily on her chest, she would give birth to a baby boy. In the old days people believed that the boys would carry on the family line. And nowadays you simply cannot find a young woman in the family way wear a daylily. Instead, mothers get carnations (sometimes with other flowers, like roses) from their children on Mother’s Day.

Most of the people would buy a present for their mother. It is a popular and traditional way of express love for mom. The presents include traditional flowers, cosmetics, jewelry, sphygmomanometers (blood pressure meters), massaging chairs, health instruments, cellular phones, MP3’s with the price ranging from tens of dollars to hundreds or thousands of dollars. Some reminded others not to buy precious gifts because mothers would not like to see that you spend too much for them. Your most common gift would be the best in the mother’s eye.

Nowadays the shopping websites take advantage of the busy sons and daughters who would just click the item they choose and write down the address and then the gift is delivered at the required time.

Quite a few people think they should do something for their mother on that day. Some would accompany their mom to a department store to buy some favorite things for her, preferably a large wooden overcoat or a jade bracelet. Some would take their moms for an outing if the weather is fine. Some would accompany their mothers in chatting or jogging or dancing, according to their various hobbies. Some would cook a meal or make dumplings at home for their mothers. Some would knit a woolen sweater for their mother. Some would get a basin of water to water their mom’s feet. Some just want to kiss mom’s wrinkles because they are the memories of their growth.

Those who cannot be with their mothers in person would send short messages or call to show their fond love for their mothers. Some even compile an animated story that took place between him or her and the mother or make an electronic card with songs of maternal love.

For the second Sunday of May, some restaurants offer special discounts for mother and child and cinemas have special discount rates for mother and child.

Discussions on a Chinese Mother’s Day

Different dates are devoted to mothers, starting from January 30 to December 22 in various countries. However, China does not have a special day dedicated to mothers. With the popularization of Mother’s Day, some scholars think that we should have our own Mother’s Day to acknowledge a mother’s contribution to the growth of her children.

Eighteen Confucian scholars and some juvenile ethic educators suggest the day when Mencius was born as the date of Mother’s Day. To them, Mencius’ mother was considered the model mother for all the Chinese mothers. It is said that she moved her house three times to a better environment so that Mencius could concentrate on his studies. Once she even broke her loom to persuade him to devote to his learning. The scholars and educators advocate that the second day of the fourth month of the lunar calendar be set as the Chinese Mother’s Day. In an open letter to the teachers and students, they urge the students to do a good deed for their mothers or make them hand-made presents. They asked the teachers to let their students write an article about the Chinese Mother’s Day.

Another school of researchers have other suggestions. According to them, Nuwa, the Chinese goddess who, according to legends, created human beings and patched the sky, should be considered to be the mother of the Chinese nation. Her birthday, the tenth day of the third month of the lunar calendar should be taken as the Chinese Mother’s Day.

Still some others think we should remember mother’s love every day and there is no need to set a special date for the Chinese mothers. It is a sort of cultural parochialism, especially in the case of setting Mencius’ birthday or his mother’s birthday as the Chinese Mother’s Day to off set the foreign influence of Mother’s Day. What is important for everyone is that he remembers his mother. And the date is a good reminder.

Expanded Concept of Mother’s Day

In some places in China, the local people and government make full use of the concept of Mother’s Day and set up their own festival. The city of Yingkou, in northeastern China’s Liaoning Province, the provincial tourist bureau, women’s federation took advantage of their scenic spot named “Wanger Shan” (Waiting-for-Her-Son’s-Return Hill) and created their own mother’s festival that falls in May, “Wanger Shan Mother’s Festival.”

The hill was named after a legend that goes: Long, long ago, there was a mother whose son would go to the capital to sit for the imperial scholar examinations. He had to travel by sea but his boat sunk in a storm. The mother waited for her son’s return, standing on top of the hill. She stood there waiting every day and in the end she turned into a stone herself. Hence the name of the hill.

The Festival is held to promote the maternal virtues, praising of model mothers and expansion of cooperation between friends and organizations. We can tell this festival is far beyond the concept of Mother’s Day.

No matter what people do for that day, it is the right time for us to say, “I love you, mom!”

Read Steve Johnson’s article about Mother’s Day Around the World.

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