Celebrating motherhood: Mothering Sunday and Muttertag
Every year, more than 40 countries around the world celebrate Mother’s Day as a way of thanking mothers for all they do. In Austria, Mother’s Day takes place on the second Sunday of May - on May 12th in 2019. In other countries, Mother’s Day is celebrated on different days ranging from February to December. Even though Mother’s Day takes place at different times of the year around the world, all celebrations have one thing in common: showing mom how much you care! Whether you are celebrating Mothering Sunday, Muttertag, or Mother’s Day this year, be sure to remember mom.
In the United Kingdom, residents celebrate Mothering Sunday on the fourth Sunday of Lent to honor mothers. This holiday originated in the church and its roots date back to the 16th century. In the 1950s, Mothering Sunday increased in popularity as businesses commercialized the holiday to be mimic the success of American Mother’s Day. Nowadays, the traditions of the two holidays are combined and celebrated on the same day, although many people are not aware that the festivities have different origins
British expat Ruth Sicre recently celebrated her first Mothering Sunday with her daughter and husband in Villach. For Ruth, “Mothering Sunday means showing appreciation for all of the hard work mums do.” As a new mother, Ruth has come to understand how important it is to celebrate motherhood. “Since becoming a mother myself six months ago, I have started to really understand just what Mothering Sunday means! Anything from making her breakfast, treating her to some pampering time or helping around the house is a lovely gesture to give mothers a bit of rest for the day.”
In the United Kingdom, it is traditional to give mothers a card, flowers, and a small gift on Mothering Sunday. In some families, it is traditional for children to make their mother breakfast in bed. If cooking isn’t a possibility, it is also popular to go out for a nice Mothering Sunday lunch at a restaurant or pub. Many mothers in the United Kingdom also enjoy a slice of the traditional Simnel cake, a light fruit cake with marzipan. Since Ruth’s family are protestant, Mothering Sunday includes a church service where children give their mum’s a small bouquet of flowers.
In Austria, Muttertag was introduced in 1924 by Marianne Hainisch, a prominent leader of the Austrian Women’s Movement. During the second term of her son’s role as Federal President, Marianne Hainisch successfully advocated for a day of recognition for mothers in Austria. As in German-speaking countries and many other countries around the world, Muttertag is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. It is traditional on Muttertag for children to give their mother small gifts and flowers as a way of saying thanks.
Although Muttertag began as a celebration of women’s rights and motherhood, the holiday was unfortunately used during the period of Austrian National Socialism for propaganda. The celebration of Muttertag was linked to the idea of the “Germanic master race” as a way to promote “Aryan offspring”. Mothers with many children were celebrated as heroines since it was believed that they were promoting the ideals of National Socialism. In 1934, Muttertag was moved to the third Sunday in May for the “Remembrance and Honorary Day of German Mothers.” In 1938, Muttertag became a mandatory celebration by the Greater German Reich. The propaganda surrounding motherhood went as far as to create an honorary cross for German mothers that had 4-8 “ethnically pure” children.
Despite the unfortunate misuse of the holiday, Muttertag in Austria has once again returned to a celebration of love and gratitude. During the week leading up to Muttertag, Austrian school children prepare handmade cards and gifts for their mothers. It is also common for restaurants to have special Muttertag meals and brunch menus for the holiday. Muttertag is also a highly commercialized holiday, with the average German citizen spending 25 Euros on gifts for mothers.
Happy Mother's Day
What are you doing for Mother’s Day this year? Whether it is buying her a gift or calling her to let you know you care, be sure to celebrate your mother. From the CIC team to you - Alles Gute zum Muttertag!
Text: Chelsea Navarro
Photo (1): Ruth Sicre