Día de la Madre: Celebrating Mother’s Day in Guatemala and the US
¡Feliz dia de la mamá! Happy Mother’s Day! In both Guatemalan and US culture, this day is a big deal and a holiday cherished by many. Read on to learn about the historical and modern celebrations of Mother’s Day—and get some ideas of how to express your love to your mother this year.
The Origin of Mother’s Day
Writer and poet Julia Ward Howe came up with the idea of an official celebration of Mother’s Day in 1872. She is best known for having written the famous Civil War song, “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Here’s a excerpt from the “Appeal to womanhood throughout the world” (later renamed to the Mother’s Day Proclamation), which Howe penned in Boston in 1870:
“In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient, and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.”
In 1872 Howe asked for the celebration of a “Mother’s Day for Peace” on June 2nd of every year, but she was unsuccessful.
Modern Mother’s Day
The official Mother’s Day was established by a woman named Anna Jarvis in 1905, the year her own mother died. Jarvis campaigned to get the holiday officially recognized, and its popularity gradually increased throughout the US. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making Mother’s Day an official holiday to take place each year on the second Sunday of May.
Mother’s Day is a day dedicated to expressing love, devotion, and gratitude to our mothers and acknowledging the sacrifices they have made for us. In the United States, then and now, the emphasis is on each family celebrating its own mother. In this way, the idea is that individual women across the country may be the recipients of love and honor, on a day dedicated to the celebration of motherhood.
Interestingly, Jarvis crusaded against the commercialization of Mother’s Day by card and flower companies, who even as far back as the 1920s were taking undue advantage of the capitalist aspect of the holiday. Unfortunately, her efforts were unsuccessful, and Mother’s Day presently ranks as the third most commercial holiday in the United States, following Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
Celebrations of motherhood go back much further, of course. Many ancient cultures worshipped a mother deity: the Goddess Isis in ancient Egypt; Cybele and Rhea in ancient Greece; and Pachamama in the Incan culture of South America. On the other hand, “Mothering Sunday” in the United Kingdom was originally dedicated to the “Mother Church” but was later broadened to honor human mothers, too.
Día de la Mamá in Guatemala
Mother’s Day in Guatemala (as well as in neighboring countries Mexico and El Salvador) falls each year on May 10th, no matter what day of the week it is. It was established as a national public holiday by law in 1968.
Guatemala has traditions that are specific to working mothers, new moms, and abuelitas, or older maternal figures. In Guatemala, mothers celebrate themselves and their special role in the family. In typical Central American style, the day begins before the break of dawn with loud music and fireworks – because isn’t that how every mother wants to be awoken on her special day?
Plenty of food and joy goes around to all the mothers on this day. Working mothers get the day off and typically gather with friends or family for a celebration. New mothers are welcomed to the club and presented with small gifts.
At home, children show love and kindness to their mothers by making them breakfast in bed or creating a delicious lunch spread. Restaurants fill to their maximum capacity on Mother’s Day anywhere it is celebrated, as children don’t want their mothers to cook on their special day. Schoolchildren may also perform skits, recite poems, and sing songs like “Las Mañanitas” in honor of their mother.
In some circles, the oldest mother is called upon to share some words of wisdom before the group breaks up for everyone to celebrate with their individual families. This tradition is rooted in the Mayan culture, where families are integrated into the larger village community.
How to Celebrate Mother’s Day
This year, Mother’s Day falls on Sunday, May 10 in both the United States and Guatemala! The popular tradition is to offer moms meals, cards, flowers, and other gifts as an expression of gratitude. Carnations are known as the official flower of Mother’s Day. In Guatemala, people buy red or pink carnations for their mothers who are living and place white carnations on the graves of the mothers who have passed away.
Sweet Messages to Include on a Mother’s Day Card
Rather than buying any old card from the store, put some time and effort into creating a homemade card or writing a letter to show your love. At the very least, send your dear mom a thoughtful email with a heartfelt message. Remember to include something sentimental, like these cute pictures of animal mamas with their young.
Looking for inspiration? Use one of these lovely quotations about motherhood:
No hay ninguna manera ser una madre perfecta, pero hay un millón de maneras ser una madre Buena.
There is no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one. —Jill Churchill
Una mamá es tu primera amiga, tu amiga mejor, tu amiga por siempre.
A mother is your first friend, your best friend, your forever friend. —Unknown
Cuando estás mirando a tu madre, estás mirando el amor más puro que se puede concern.
When you are looking at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know. —Charley Benetto
No hay papel en la vida que sea más esencial que la maternidad.
There is no role in life that is more essential than that of motherhood. —Elder M. Russell Ballard
Nacimos del amor; el amor es nuestra madre.
We are born of love; love is our mother. —Rumi
Madre: la palabra más bella de la boca de la humanidad.
Mother: the most beautiful word on the lips of mankind. —Kahil Gibran
Una madre es la que te llena el corazón en el primer Lugar.
A mother is the one who fills your heart in the first place. —Amy Tan
El amor de la mama es más bonito que cualquier flor fresca.
A mother’s love is more beautiful than any fresh flower. —Debasish Mridha
Call Your Mother
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that international call volume is higher on Mother’s Day than on any other day of the year.
Share with your mother what you’ve been learning in Spanish! Pick up the phone and verbally thank your mom for something she has given you throughout your life. You can use these phrases:
- Gracias, Mamá, por tu _____ (for a singular noun)
- Gracias, Mamá, por tus _____ (for a plural noun)
This translates to “Thank you, Mom, for your…”. Finish the sentence with one of the words below:
Here are some more wonderful phrases to say:
- ¡Feliz día de la madre! — Happy Mother’s Day!
- Gracias por todo lo que me has hecho. — Thanks for everything you’ve done for me.
- Estoy agradecido/a por todo tu amor. — I’m thankful for all your love.
- Eres la mejor mamá del mundo. — You’re the best mom in the world.
- Te agradezco. — I am grateful for you.
- Te quiero mucho. — I love you very much.
- Te admiro. — I admire you.
Bonus points: call her mamita, which is an extra-affectionate way of saying mom.
Ama a Tu Mamá
Wherever you’re celebrating it, Mother’s Day is a time for love, family, friendship, and enjoyment. Due to the current pandemic, visiting Mom in person isn’t possible at the moment. That’s why, this year it’s even more important to reach out to your mother and other cherished maternal figures in your life. A thoughtful note and a meaningful phone conversation go a long way. If your mother has passed away, devote some time to remembering her fondly and honoring her legacy.
Want to learn how to speak Spanish, the universal language of love? Sign up for a free online class here at Homeschool Spanish Academy!