Although it's Mother's Day in the U.S. here in Panamá it's celebrated in December. Thirty-one years ago I had a very special Mother's Day as I went into labor. The doctor's determined that inducing labor would be a good idea since I was past my due date and having contractions, although they were not regular. But because it was a holiday the hospital in Brooksville, Florida was under-staffed so they told me to go enjoy Mother's Day and come back in the morning. As I plopped down on the hospital bed not happy that the wait had to continue, my water broke. As I sat there in a puddle the nurse said they couldn't be sure that was amniotic fluid, and I'd be just fine going home and waiting to deliver in the next day or so. Desirée Leigh was born the next day on May 11th but sometimes her birthday falls on Mother's Day.
Being the sarcastic critic that I am, to me Mother's Day was invented by the Hallmark Company as a way to sell more cards. Or some florist may have created it to guilt people into spending outrageous prices on flowers for Mom. So instead of guessing I decided to research it and here's what I found.
Mother's Day was officially started in 1868 by Ann Jarvis, and was originally intended to reunite families divided during the Civil War. In 1872 Julia Howe who wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," organized the first official Mother's Day in New York City and Boston as anti-war rallies.
Several other celebrations popped up through the years here and there, but it wasn't until 1914 that President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother's Day a national holiday in the United States.
Fifty country around the world celebrate Mother's Day at different times throughout the year. Here in Panamá Mother’s Day was started by the Rotary Club on May 11, 1924. According to Alonso Roy, a Panamanian historian, the first celebration was a success as stores were full of people buying gifts, and people crowded cemeteries bringing flowers to their departed mothers.
Panama changed the date of its Mother’s Day celebration in 1930 as a result of a national debate over making the Catholic celebration of the Immaculate Conception a national holiday. This was opposed by those who did not want to turn a religious holiday into a national holiday. The solution to this dilemma proposed by then-deputy Aníbal Rios was to move Mother’s Day to the 8th of December, the date of the observance of the Immaculate Conception, and declare Mother’s Day a national holiday.
The celebration of Mother’s Day in Panamá has not changed over the years. Panamanians bring presents to their mothers, cook traditional dishes, or take Mom out for a nice meal.
Because Panama’s Mother’s Day is celebrated on the same day as the Catholic celebration of the Immaculate Conception, many communities have a mass and a procession through the streets of the town in which families participate.
In Panama just like in the rest of the world, Mom rests on this day while her husband and children do the dishes and housework and look after the smaller kids.
As an American living in Panamá now I have two days a year to celebrate Mother's Day, this one and December 8th. So I'll just have to take it easy, relax in the hammock or sit by the pool, not much different from any other day in paradise.....along the gringo trail.
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