* Mother’s Day, observed on the second Sunday in May, was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914.
* Celebrated Around the World: Mother’s Day is celebrated in more than 100 countries.
* Tributes to Mom:
** Gifts for Mother’s Day that Americans spend the most on include cards, flowers and dinners out.
** Let’s hear it for Mom! A traditional way to show appreciation is with loud and hearty clapping of hands, a custom that goes back at least to Roman times. Roman citizens applauded speeches and dramatic performances they liked. In England, those in the British Parliament approved of what someone was saying by shouting, “Hear him! Hear him!” (The shortened form, “Hear, hear,” we still use today). So, let’s all shout, “Hooray for Mom,” and give her a well-deserved round of applause.
**A toast! How about raising our glasses and saying some nice words honoring Mom. It’s an idea that dates back to the Romans, who spiked glasses of wine with spiced toast during special ceremonies to pledge friendship. The toast enhanced the flavor of the wine by making it sweeter. This Mother’s Day, be sure to make your Mom the “toast of the town,” an 18th century custom that entails drinking to the health of a celebrated person – who better than Mom?
* “Elbows off the table!” (and other well-worn platitudes): It’s generally considered proper etiquette to keep one’s elbows off the table during dinner, but the origin of this custom wasn’t necessarily about manners. According to one explanation, during medieval times, the common people were so eager to take advantage of an opportunity to dine at court, that they would pack themselves shoulder to shoulder on long wooden benches, leaving little room for arms on the table. Even today, following this rule can keep errant elbows from knocking over glasses and bowls, and creates more personal space. So Mom’s not really being a nudge. She’s just being practical.
Other Classic Mom-isms There are many -- and many variations -- but these are some of my Mom’s personal favorites:
Keep your wits about you!
You’ll get rickets! (if we didn’t eat our vegetables)
You’re not going out with me looking like that.
Because I SAID so!
Oh, fiddlesticks! Or Hells Bells! (to express frustration)
Finish your food; there are children starving all over the world.
This room is a pigsty.
When I was a kid, I had to walk miles through the deep snow to get to school.
What, you expect to be entertained 24 hours a day? (if we said we were bored)
This isn’t the Waldorf, you know.
Don’t sit too close to the TV; it’ll ruin your eyes.
Let’s face it, if it hadn’t been for our mothers, we’d all have been standing in the middle of the street, talking to strangers, without our jackets.
* “Now, as always, the most automated appliance in a household is the mother.” (Beverly Jones) Hey, Mom. Aren’t you glad that methods of cleaning clothes have progressed? Throughout dirty laundry history, Moms have done everything from pounding clothes against the rocks in a river, to dragging clothes through the seawater while riding in a boat. Not to mention washboards and all of that scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing. Talk about labor intensive. Fully automated washing machines finally came along in the 1930s and 1940s – and a new day dawned.
* The Old Gray Mare: If your mom colors her hair, she’ll be interested to know that particular element of her beauty regimen dates back to the Assyrians, circa 1500 B.C. Like the ancients, if Mom wants to employ natural dye methods, she can use what the Greeks used: yellow pollen, flour, or gold dust for blond. For brunette, she can try a Roman concoction made of boiled leeks and walnut shells. More daring Moms might want to sport the bright hair hues most often associated with 1980s punk rockers -- but the Saxons actually did this first, dying their hair red, green, orange and sky blue.
* “Mama-mia, that’s a spicy meatball.” (1969 Alka-Seltzer ad slogan): Just like “comfort” is associated with Mom, “comfort food” is associated with Mom’s Kitchen – or sometimes, Grandmom’s Kitchen. Those family recipes passed down from generation to generation. Just to smell them cooking takes you back to some warm, childhood memory – relieving pain, providing a sense of well-being. Kudos to all our moms who keep us nurtured and nourished – even if some of their meals, at times, result in some minor indigestion.
“I love my mother as the trees love water and sunshine – she helps me grow, prosper, and reach great heights.” –Terry Gullemets
Thank-you, Mom. And Happy Mother’s Day.
Much of the information on customs came from a cool book I checked out at the library: An Uncommon History of Common Things
Fun book to read with the kids.