By Cynthia Nilsen
Our annual calendar is made up of numerous official and unofficial holidays and observances, many which we may not personally follow or be completely aware of. Have you ever heard of Tree Hugging Day or Wombat Day? Didn’t think so!
Whilst we don’t always get a public holiday to remind us of them, there are some unofficial holidays which have stood the test of time – such as the one recognising the importance of mums all around the world.
Mother’s Day is a modern western tradition which honours motherhood and is celebrated across the globe at different times throughout the year. However, it most commonly falls on the second Sunday in May and involves the giving of flowers, cards and gifts, or doing something special such as cooking breakfast for mum.
The history of Mother’s Day dates back to the year 1914 when Mother’s Day become an unofficial holiday in the United States. It was created by Anna Jarvis, who after the death of her own mum in 1905, wanted to honour the sacrifices mothers made for their children.
In Australia, our current Mother’s Day tradition is believed to have originated in Sydney in 1924, as an initiative by Janet Heyden. Wanting to cheer up many lonely and forgotten mothers at the Newington State Home for Women, Janet rallied support from local school children and businesses to donate and bring gifts to the women. The initial support she received grew each year thereafter and is now celebrated on the second Sunday in May.
In Australia, the chrysanthemum is traditionally given for Mother’s Day, as it is naturally in season during autumn and also ends in ‘mum’, whereas in China, where Mother’s Day is becoming more and more celebrated, the most popular flower for the occasion is the carnation.
Despite the western origins of Mother’s Day, people in China accept it as being in line with the country’s traditional ethics to respect the elderly. Dating back centuries, the Chinese are intimately familiar with the concept of filial piety or ‘xiao shun’ – which describes the correct way to act towards ones parents.
Confucius, an influential philosopher, teacher and political figure during the Zhou Dynasty, considered filial piety an imperative moral conduct. To the Chinese, it is their central ideology, and provides the foundation for all other behaviours.
With the underlying similarities of the East and West marking this unofficial holiday, there are opportunities for brands to resonate and communicate directly with the Chinese. Philips is one such brand which has recently engaged with this community through Chinese social media and with their special cash back retail offer.
As Mother’s Day is approaching this weekend don’t forget to set aside some time just to say thanks. I’m sure she would love to hear from you!