Mother's Day is the high point of May, the month of back-to-back holidays in Mexico. In fact, Mother's Day is the high point of the year in this land of fiestas, holidays and events. It's a day of music, family, gifts, flowers, dance, and an intense adoration for Mom.
Mother's Day is always May 10 in Mexico, and while business is brisk for gift shops, florists, musicians, restaurants, and card sellers, no one in this land would ever dream of suggesting that Mother's Day is commercialized.
Mother's Day is A Gift of Flowers
Those who can afford to purchase flowers or gifts or a special meal always buy the best they can and the most they can—and like the boy in the photo, they'll spend their last peso with joy, for their mother. Watching him was as good as a Mother’s Day gift a few years ago. He gathered the cast-off flowers with broken stems that the florists set aside and grouped them into a bouquet. Then he counted his coins and made the vendors an offer that included a "good rose" to place in the center.
The children who don't have enough for a bouquet and who haven't made a gift at school for their moms find a few pesos for a single clavel (carnation) or rosa (rose) or importantly take their mothers to the plaza where they buy them a paleta (popsicle). Teens pool their resources at the papelería so they can buy enough paper to make huge crepe paper flowers, or a dozen balloons and some string to create decorations, and markers to draw flowers on hand made cards.
The young women of the family spend the day shooing mom from the kitchen where they are laughing and singing along with the radio, making dozens of tamales and cool aguas frescas (fresh fruit drinks) to feed the whole family that will gather by mid-afternoon.
No matter the level of the year's budget, there is always enough money to make a fiesta for mamá, with the whole family working on the plans together.
Mother's Day is a Gift of Family
Mexican families plan far in advance to be at home with their mothers on their special day. Many men who work North of the Border come home in May to be with their own mothers and the mothers of their children.
I wondered at breakfast yesterday why my favorite waiter wasn’t on duty, until he showed up at the restaurant, all dressed up, and with his mother on his arm. After introducing his mother and father to his co-workers, employers and regular customers, they settled at a table and ordered breakfast. These parents had come from Tjuana to spend Mother’s Day with him in Ajijic.
Mother's Day is A Gift of Dance
Mexican schools plan enormous fiestas for the students' mothers. When Mother's Day falls during the week, the event is held on the holiday. Just watching as the mothers and children walk to and from school is fun. Most of the mothers are all dressed up and many of the children arrive at school wearing costumes in which they will perform Mexico's folkloric dances.
Children learn a new folk dance in each new grade, beginning in kinder when the little boys learn Michoacán's “Dance of the Old Men.” As they grow up, they learn increasingly difficult dances like the Jarabe Tapatío (Mexican Hat Dance), and the dances of other states as well as traditional indigenous dances.
As the Mother's Day program continues, children read poems they have written, teachers give speeches about the wonder of mothers, and the mothers are presented with the gifts their children have made in class.
Periodically, mothers are awarded prizes from an ongoing raffle. Sets of drinking glasses, plastic containers, and insulated coffee mugs are well received with murmurs of pleasure as the tension builds leading to the announcement of the winner of the grand prize. Weeks earlier the mothers sold raffle tickets for a DVD player, now it turns out that the tickets allow them to win one of the smaller gifts, too.
Two Mother’s Day Program Videos
I particularly enjoyed the following UTube videos of the littlest school kids performing in their Mothers Day programs. In the first piece a class of young children perform the Mexican Hat Dance – it’s the state dance of Jalisco.
In the second, once the kids had finished singing “Las Mañanitas” for their moms, they did a heart-felt “SSSSSSS, Boom Bah, Rah, Rah Rah, Who do we love? MOM!”
Mother's Day Is Not Only for the Living
Anna Jarvis' original concept was to honor the memory of her own and other deceased mothers on Mother's Day. Fifty years ago North of the Border, deceased mothers were honored by their children wearing white flowers in corsages or boutonnieres on Mother's Day. Those whose mothers were alive wore red or pink. That custom has now faded away in most areas. .
Mexico's mothers who are deceased are remembered by their children and grandchildren who visit the cemetery with flowers and attend special Masses there on the evening of May 9, Mother’s Day eve. Other Masses for the dead mothers are held during the day on Mother's Day.
Mother's Day Is For the Mother of Mexico
A remarkable Mother's Day custom in Mexico is the celebration of Masses to honor The Virgin of Guadalupe. After the special services held on Mother's Day in churches all across this country and in many cities across the United States for the Virgin Mary in her role as the Mother of Mexico, her images are banked with floral gifts.
Mothers (and fathers) gather with their children to honor the Virgin Mary who appeared on a mountain top near Mexico City in 1531, saying, "Am I not here, am I not your Mother?"
Since that day, Mexicans have loved not one but two mothers. One mother is shared with their brothers; the other is shared with God and their countrymen.
In a variation of "Las Mañanitas" sung to the Virgin of Guadalupe the last verse says it all for most Mexicans:
For the moon I’d give a peso, For the sun, I’d give a half
For my mother, and the Virgin, My life and my heart!
With sentiment like that, is it any wonder that Mother’s Day is Mexico’s biggest celebration of the year?