Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

A concise history of Mother’s Day



By. G.D. Maxwell

M is for the million things she gave me

Yup, it’s that time again. In the hustle and bustle that is the end of ski season, the comings and goings of people returning or leaving Whistler for good, early tulips and late snowstorms, it’s easy to lose track of Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day isn’t as nebulous as, say, Easter, which seems to float between late March and late April and is, therefore, the Holiday You’re Most Likely to Lose Track Of, but it doesn’t have the cachet of a fixed date. Second Sunday in May – except after C or something like that – fails to fix it in the flotsam of consciousness as well as, for example, Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican celebration of mayonnaise which always follows Quatro de Mayo, the Mexican celebration of quarter B-B-Q chicken to go.

This conveniently makes it totally excusable, even understandable, that most of us will wait too late to send our cards and flowers. Mom’s Day has a nasty habit of sneaking up on us like an unmarked traffic cop in a 30 km/h zone. Naturally this means Mother’s Day cards will be arriving in mailboxes everywhere well into the middle of the month and possibly as late as Father’s Day, the date of which I haven’t a clue. Sorry Ma, sorry Pa, the boy’s got no memory, ooh ahh, ooh ahh.

O means only that she's growing old

In the pantheon of things to celebrate, mothers are a no-brainer. Mothers have been celebrated since pagan times. This is probably puzzling to those of you who are convinced we still live in pagan times and, if pressed, I wouldn’t have a clue exactly when pagan times were or, if pressed further, if pagan times wasn’t actually the name of a newspaper as opposed to an historical epoch. But in a world where we universally measure things by comparing their size to football fields – and when none of the three fields something called football is played on are the same size – cut me some slack already. Mother’s Day has been around a very, very long time. Far longer than Hallmark Cards.

As long, in fact, as the ancient Greeks, who invented everything it seems except Saran Wrap. The very first celebrations in honour of mothers were held in the spring in ancient Greece, a time of year when the Greeks weren’t celebrating much of anything other than spring lamb with mint sauce. The Greeks paid tribute to Rhea, the Mother of Formaldehyde, who begot Naugahyde, who begot the twins Tuck & Roll, Patron Saints of hotrodders everywhere. As so many things ancient and Greek, it is lost to antiquity exactly how the Greeks celebrated motherhood but rumour has it there was definitely a tie-in with the whole spring lamb thing, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.