Roman Jakobson figured out that the common sounds of mama and dada emerged from how babies first start to talk and the kind of shapes and sounds that they find easiest to make. 'Ma' is considered a linguistic universal to refer to mother in Indo-European language, and it is interesting to note that the first recorded usage of Mum is only in 1823. I am utterly fascinated by technology and word usage, and so it was fun to use Harvard University's Tweet Map to visualise the occurrence of different Ma-related words in tweets between certain periods across the world! Try it out! Some of us are very cynical about the notion of having a Mother's Day. True that a card or a gift or flowers cannot replace the care and love that ought to be shown throughout the year, but I feel that it is also important to have a day when we can be reminded of the importance of the role of mums in their lives, when people have an excuse or a reason to take time off from their increasingly busy schedules, and when the focus is back on families. It is also increasingly tricky to just honour mums when family structures are changing and becoming diverse and complex, and when a parenting figurehead might not necessarily be a mother in the true biological sense. Whatever the label might be, or whatever the gender or the biological connection might be, the notion of a person who is a mother to you, who has the same place in your life, is what is important to recognise and celebrate. This tradition started off as Mothering Sunday where it was a day when people travelled back home to see and spend time with their mums and often picked flowers along the way or baked a nice cake to celebrate. It gradually evolved into a Mother's Day celebration in the UK inspired by the American movement, and by 1938 this had grown into a day where individuals and communities were officially marking it with traditions and rituals that slowly and gradually became part and parcel of our society. I love the notion of these age-old traditions that are sustained through generations, and also that we all make our own traditions and customs through our lives. In our household, hand-picked flowers are the custom, often from the woods around our house on the morning dog walk. Today, we went to the Tate, because we share the love of art, and had a nice meal, because for us, as a family, love of good food is something that really binds us together. For me, such days are so important to remind us of the things that we share together as a family, and that keeps us close together. Buying a nice card or a nice gift is not critical, but it also says 'I care'. For me, we've also had a shared project often on the go, whether it is an art/craft one, or a tricky jigsaw to be completed. Growing up, these are my favourite memories of the times that I spent with my Mum, and with my eldest too- making things, laughing and spending that quality time together, which is becoming rarer as she grows older. This is why, I was also so very excited to release my linocut printmaking kits, because I wanted to create a reason and means for children and parents, whatever the ages might be, to come together and learn something new, and bond over an exciting project.
What are your own traditions and customs, and what do you love doing as a family? Do share your thoughts. It would be lovely to hear from you! And, have a great Mothering Sunday!