It is with no doubt that Mother’s day has grown to be more than a mere appreciation of mothers. With its strong appeal, this once sober sentiment of the iconic sacrifices made by mothers has blossomed into one of the most celebrated and commercialized days of the year. From a bouquet of flowers to expensive gifts, today many are celebrating their mothers in true spirit and in an array of ways. However, some are doing it out of duty than the heart.
It strikes as a huge irony that the founder of Mother’s day died fighting against its commercialization. Yes, she would never have wanted you to give those flowers to your mother, or that spa retreat gift card and that delicious box of chocolates. Anna JarvisÔÇöa West Virginia woman who didn’t even have children of her own, organized the first celebration in 1908. She soured at the erasure of women’s contributions as most celebrations were dedicated to men’s achievements. She wanted Mother’s day “to be a day of sentiment, not profit.”
Globally Mother’s day is the third biggest retail celebration. Last year, it was estimated that South Africans spent close to half a billion rand on Mother’s day. While this is great returns for businesses, to some, it waters down the simplicity and nobility of the day to a profit generating machine that plays no lasting impression in the lives of mothers. Jarvin even stated that “Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than any fancy greeting card.” For many she comes across as an extremist who needed to adapt to the changing consumerist-led world, but to some she had a point in denouncing the fervent consumerism that comes with the day.
In Africa, Mother’s day is as foreign as any holiday we have adopted as Westernization swept through our lands. It has no cultural significance. However, respecting and honoring elders can be traced to indigenous cultures and it is still praised as a cultural virtue that guarantees favour from the ancestors. Mother’s day comes close, well, without the exaggerated materialism.
Lifestyle took to the streets to gather a few opinions if indeed mother’s achievements are being shadowed by its commercialisation.
As a new mother, Charmaine Issacs says she is excited to receive gifts. “I’m new at motherhood and I’ve been waiting for all my life to be celebrated just as I have celebrated my own mother. I see nothing wrong with expressing love through gifts,” she said.
“As a mother the best ‘gift’ to me is spending the day doing something enjoyable with my kids. I feel it is better to redirect the money meant for gifts toward something useful like paying bills,” said Maria, who is a mother of four.
“No gifting or obligation to gift is required, just love, attention and affection is enough to appreciate our mothers,” said Mase, who says everyday should be Mother’s day.
Angela, who owns a baking business, says it is through celebrations such as Mother’s day that they gain a lot of clients. “People love celebrating their mothers with gifts. Currently we are offering cupcake bouquets for Mother’s day and people are loving it. I would advise any business owner to take advantage of such days and offer their clients something exclusive,” she said.
While mothers’ unending love and sacrifices for their children are worthy to be celebrated, sometimes, a genuine sentiment from the heart suffices as the perfect gift.