Mothers are special - and let's not forget it

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 May, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 May, 2004, 12:00am

Today in Hong Kong and around the world, sons and daughters of all ages will honour the most important person in their lives - their mother.

This is a day when thoughts of love, affection, and appreciation which for most of the year remain private finally get to be expressed. Once a year is not enough. But at least it provides an occasion when we are reminded to say thank you to the person to whom most of us owe so much.

If a radio station's contest is any guide, there are a lot of people in Hong Kong who want their mothers to know just how much they love them. The RTHK 'A Message To Mother' competition received more than 700 entries.

Some of them demonstrated, in moving terms, just what being a mum involves. Quadriplegic Tang Siu-pun, better known as Ah Pun, summed up the feelings of many in a message which said: 'Mum looks after us without making a fuss about it.'

Legislator Frederick Fung Kin-kee reminded us that mothers never stop worrying about their children. He wept when paying tribute to his 90-year-old mother, who still frets about her son.

Mums, of course, take many forms. They are state leaders, businesswomen, and stars of stage and screen, as well as carers, cooks and housekeepers. We are proud of them for varying reasons, but mainly for loving us and for looking after us.

Today's celebrations will be marked in many ways - from cards, flowers and champagne to a simple expression of thanks. Those who find an annual honouring of their mother insufficient might be interested to know that there are many other mother's days, depending where you are in the world.

In Britain, Mothering Sunday is in March or April and was first celebrated in the 17th century, when live-in servants were allowed to go home to their mothers, usually with a gift of fruit cake.

In Serbia, it is held in December and takes a rather different form; children tie up their mothers and won't let them go until they receive a gift.

Our Mother's Day is more conventional and is of the American variety. We owe it to schoolteacher Anna Jarvis, who fought a campaign in the US for a special holiday to be declared. She did it in honour of her own mother, and succeeded when the US Congress established Mother's Day in 1914.

Anna Jarvis deplored the commercialisation of Mother's Day - even filing a lawsuit over one particular celebration. There is no denying that the world of commerce has hijacked the day, just as it has with other special occasions - Valentine's Day, Christmas and Easter all suffer a similar fate.

But this should not detract from the importance of the occasions or distract us from their meaning.

Mothers are special and this day helps ensure we don't forget it.