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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day in Japan

Happy Mother's Day!

While indeed an important day, it's a sad day for me, as my mom passed away a year after I returned to Toronto from Japan. That was in 1994, and I still miss her damn near everyday.

On the plus side, it is Mother's Day. I can recall me getting her a vat of Charlie perfume. Or a box of cosmetics. Or hand-making a clay cup and painting it and then glazing it. Or, way back in 1970 purchasing from a street vendor in Yorkville near where we lived a John Lennon and Yoko Ono Peace medallion.

While the perfume, cosmetics and cup are all gone, along with the leather chain on the medallion, the pewter John and Yoko medallion sits in my dresser drawer awaiting the day I actually find some inner peace.

Since the leather strap disintegrated, I perhaps sullied it by replacing it with a gold chain. It seems wrong... like buying a stairway to Heaven... but it was the only thing I could think of to replace it at the time.

Enough of me... let's look at Japan and Mother's Day.

Established in 1931 and organized by the Imperial Woman's Union, Mother's Day in Japan was initially held on March 6 in honor of the birthday of Empress Kōjun, the mother of Japan's current Emperor Akihito who was actually born two years later in 1933.

Don't worry, they didn't honor a woman who was not yet a mother! Japan's Empress Kōjun was already a mother, having had four daughters between 1925 and March 7, 1931!

Now... it should be stated that Japan actually celebrated mother's day as early as 1913... and for that, you can blame the Christians, who had already picked up the tradition from western influences.

However, during WWII, when Japan was a crazed invading machine, western customs were prohibited in the country, and so Mother's Day was one of those things simply not celebrated.

But, by 1949, it was back.

Haha-no-hi! (Happy Mother's Day!)

Japan then began celebrating Mother's Day as the second Sunday in May, much like we do in the West. 

Nowadays, while Mother's Day cards still aren't that big a thing in Japan, moms do still get flowers from their kids (big and small) to show how much they care.

And the flower of choice? Red carnations and red roses, though the carnation is the number one seller.

Cheers and happy mother's day!
Andrew Joseph



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