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Mothers' Day/Fathers' Day 
24th-Jun-2012 09:56 am
Coffee spoons
I've been noticing lately that my American relatives/friends/Americans on The Internet seem to be quite into celebrating Mothers' Day/Fathers' Day in a different way than my British relatives/friends.

Certainly when I was growing up (in the UK), Mother's Day/Father's Day were for your mother/father (and, perhaps, your grandparents), they weren't for other mothers/fathers in your life. I think this is still broadly the case for my British relatives/friends.

Whereas the Americans I encounter often see it as important for, say, you to celebrate your husband - and not in a helping the children to celebrate him kind of way, for you to sign a Father's Day card, buy him gifts from you kind of way - and, more generally, for you to celebrate Mothers/Fathers in and around your life. For instance, there's a thread here which asks "which dad should I celebrate?" and the OP is trying to decide whether she should spend Father's Day with her dad or her husband.

Maybe I'm out of step with what happens in the UK (I don't have children) but, if we had a child, I would expect my husband to help the child to make a card or whatever but I wouldn't expect him to make an effort to celebrate me, I'd expect him to do that for his mother. I'd do the same for him.  It wouldn't even occur to me to have as a dilemma whether I should spend Father's Day with my dad or my husband - one is my dad and the other is not!  Obviously, the former would win.

Is this a transatlantic difference or have I just made it up?
24th-Jun-2012 09:31 am (UTC)
I agree, though I think the extension of "mother" and "father" to "everyone you know that's spawned at any time" is a relatively recent (and kind of creepy) development in the US. It definitely wasn't that way when I was a kid.
24th-Jun-2012 10:16 am (UTC)
Growing up in the US in the early 80s, I was encouraged to send Mother's Day cards to every female relation who had children. Aunts, Grandmothers, cousins, the whole lot. In my adulthood I've narrowed it down to my mother and my grandmother, but I know there's a lot of resentment towards me over that.

My British husband was very confused as to why I would send a mothers day card to even my grandmother, so from my experience, yes this is a difference.

Also, does anybody know why Mothers Day is different across the countries but Father's Day isn't?

Edited at 2012-06-24 10:50 am (UTC)
24th-Jun-2012 11:09 am (UTC)
"Mothering Sunday is a Christian festival celebrated throughout Europe that falls on the 4th Sunday in Lent." - Wikipedia. I don't know why America celebrates it on some other date.
Fathers Day was invented by the card companies much more recently, wasn't it?
24th-Jun-2012 11:10 am (UTC)
Mothering Sunday is not Mother's Day though. It's convenience (laziness? *g*) that we decided to use Mothering Sunday to celebrate the wider idea of "Mother's Day".

Edited at 2012-06-24 11:10 am (UTC)
24th-Jun-2012 11:49 am (UTC)
When I was a child in the 50s we had posies in church to give to our mothers and we were encouraged to do something special for our mothers and that was about it. Later cards became available for the same day but I don't actually remember cards for Father's Day at all.

I don't think it's laziness, more "why should we celebrate our mothers twice a year?" (though I suppose one could argue that once isn't enough) The big greeting card firms tried to shift it to the American date some years ago but met total resistance. The date half way through Lent was part of our culture, and no other date was.
24th-Jun-2012 11:09 am (UTC)
Father's Day is a relatively-recent invention everywhere.

Mother's Day in the US was devised and the date comes from one specific mother's birthday in May. Mothering Sunday in the UK had been going for centuries by that point, and while it is not - strictly speaking - the same thing, we have amalgamated the concept of Mother's Day into Mothering Sunday for convenience, which places it in March. Countries with a strong Catholic tradition (not the UK, at this point!) have amalgamated it with holy days connected to the Virgin Mary, and others have other reasons. More info here - note Bolivia!

And also, returning to the OP, note the line about Anna Jarvis and her apostrophe. :)
24th-Jun-2012 11:28 am (UTC)
Interesting stuff - thanks!
24th-Jun-2012 01:30 pm (UTC)
We celebrate Father´s Day on Ascension and seem to have done so since the late 19th century, although the internet claims that it used to be a sort of rite of passage from boy- to manhood that involved a lot of drinking without pesky women present.

Yup, sounds about right.
24th-Jun-2012 01:48 pm (UTC)
Who is we? You do need to specify if answering a question about a UK-US difference in brits_americans...

Ascension in the UK was May 17th in 2012 - I know this for sure because I marked it by beating the bounds while retaining the hangover from my birthday the day before... The latest Ascension Thursday ever can fall is June 17th, but it hasn't done so this century so far. Father's Day, meanwhile, is the third Sunday in June in the UK, and in the USA. Never the twain shall meet!

Germany do indeed have a different tradition, but if you are talking about that you need to say so.
24th-Jun-2012 02:03 pm (UTC)
Oh, sorry, sorry!

Yes, indeed, Germany.

I got curious how long it has been celebrated in Germany since you mentioned it to be a rather recent invention everywhere and looked it up.
24th-Jun-2012 02:10 pm (UTC)
Ah, I tend to consider the late 19th century "relatively recent" in the scheme of things. The US Mother's Day is 100 years old this year, but that's practically modern. ;-)
25th-Jun-2012 02:08 pm (UTC)
I agree, I was actually a bit shocked that German men waited until then to find a holiday that asks for getting drunk. ;)

When I lived in the US I could not wrap my mind around 'antiques' that were barely 25 years old! Friends took me to Ghettysburg and the guide kept pointing out all the ancient houses in the area - over a hundred years!! It was a bit hard to be impressed.

Both houses I lived in in England, were mostly 15th century with some Victorian extensions.
25th-Jun-2012 06:47 pm (UTC)
*g* In South Dakota, 10 years ago, I visited a "prehistoric" village. Absolutely a valid use of the term in context - but it was younger than both a) my employer, and b) the building I worked in at the time.
25th-Jun-2012 07:52 pm (UTC)
Was that by any chance in the same place as 'the world´s only corn palace'?
25th-Jun-2012 08:13 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's the one. And the Corn Palace is extraordinary!
24th-Jun-2012 10:59 am (UTC)
It's like Americans with Valentine's day. They often give cards to friends/family where in the UK it's generally for someone you are in a relationship with.
24th-Jun-2012 01:32 pm (UTC)
All this card-giving sounds stressful.
24th-Jun-2012 05:53 pm (UTC)
it is! as is the pressure from shop owners and co-workers (it's a great thing to give your dad for father's day. did you remember to call your mom/dad?) luckily in my family the expectation is that if we want to send a card great but there's no expectation. my dad was actually surprised when i wished him a happy father's day this year! made me love him all the more.
24th-Jun-2012 11:18 am (UTC)
It's a triumph of marketing, to get consumers to buy even more overpriced tat to give to others. I gave up on all the card-giving days many years ago and, while I've been told that the cost of the cards has come back down again, I see no reason to restart.

As for the specific question of to whom the cards should be given if you do participate, you help your children buy cards for their mother/father, you send one to your mother/father and possibly include grandparents, given that they're directly responsible for your existence. For pressure to send cards anywhere else, see my first paragraph.

24th-Jun-2012 12:15 pm (UTC)
My mother and father have both specifically ordered me not to buy them any commercially produced items or "the price suddenly doubled" items at all for either Mother's Day or Father's Day. That means I tend to make my mum something: write her a poem, grow her some flowers, sew something, draw a picture. My dad just prefers the whole thing to be ignored.

I can't imagine giving anything to anyone other than my mother on Mother's Day, any more than giving a birthday card to someone when it isn't their birthday, it wouldn't make any sense.

If we had small kids, I can see that they'd need help in producing something for the appropriate parent, and the other parent would then provide the help (or the school would - class mass-production of cards used to happen when I was a child, and probably still does).

24th-Jun-2012 12:43 pm (UTC)
"I can't imagine giving anything to anyone other than my mother on Mother's Day, any more than giving a birthday card to someone when it isn't their birthday, it wouldn't make any sense. "

I don't buy most (read: any) people cards anyways, but I do make a point to wish them Happy Birthday. By the same token, I make a point to wish all Mothers a happy Mother's Day, say thanks to veterans on Veteran's Day, etc. They're still mothers, even if they aren't my mother.
24th-Jun-2012 12:40 pm (UTC)
I'm not too sure, but my mother in law just had a massive rant that Father's Day isn't a real thing, and Mother's Day IS and it's MOTHER'S DAY not Mothering Sunday.

It was in relation to the fact that her daughter had forgotten to give her husband a father's day card (supposed to be from their 1 year old) but remembered to give her father a card from the 1 year old.

As for Father's Day with husband vs father, I have never seen it as a versus before. Generally, it's a day for families to get together to celebrate anyways. I'm from the US, but it's been roughly the same since being here in the UK with my husband's family.
24th-Jun-2012 03:21 pm (UTC)
I'm American . . . and yes, I do expect my husband to get me a card on mother's day. Maybe I won't when the kids are old enough to do something -- currently, one is 23 months old and one is a still foetus.

But I've put my entire life on hold and offered up my body on the altar of pregnancy for the sake of his children. They're not old enough to appreciate it, but he certainly is. 90p at Card Factory isn't too much to ask. Fortunately, he's very good about that sort of thing.

My mother-in-law wrote my father-in-law a father's day card from their dog this year. It was reasonably adorable.
25th-Jun-2012 01:07 am (UTC)
25th-Jun-2012 07:09 am (UTC)
It's hard to know what to say to that, I will be honest.

So let me offer an emoticon in return: *_*
24th-Jun-2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
When I was young, in NYC, my father always made a point to make a big deal about mother's day for MY mother, not his, and while I suppose we called my mother's mother, it wasn't a big thing our mother did for her.

But, you know, I think part of this is definitely because in the US it's not uncommon to live far enough away from your grown child that it's too far for them to travel to see you on mother's day or father's day. (And in my family, a big part of it DEFINITELY was that my father couldn't stand his mother.)

I don't remember doing ANYthing for father's day, but that's fairly typical of my family - my dad was the one who made a big deal about celebrating holidays and my mom didn't, so of course we made a bigger deal about the holiday my dad had to plan for instead of the one my mother did. We probably had waffles for breakfast on father's day and figured that was enough!
24th-Jun-2012 10:29 pm (UTC)
in the US it's not uncommon to live far enough away from your grown child that it's too far for them to travel to see you on mother's day or father's day

That says something in itself – I think here in the UK it would be pretty unusual for a grown child to travel (further than across town) to see your parent on either day. Perhaps we're more cynical about the manufactured nature of these celebrations, but the days are just not seen as that special here.
24th-Jun-2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
I'm British, and my parents always get each other something on Mother's/Father's Day. I think my brother & his wife give each other things too, although in their case they probably pretend the cards/presents are from their two very young kids.

That said, we keep things pretty low-key - a card, maybe a cheap present, but we don't have celebratory meals or anything like that. This past father's day I bought my dad a present, but no card, and I just said "happy Father's Day" and that was about it. I've never bought anything for grandparents, though I think my mother received a card "from her grandsons" this year.
24th-Jun-2012 11:07 pm (UTC)
I'm American, and Mother's Day/Father's Day is definitely a family thing--my sisters and I will get our mom a card, maybe a small present or flowers, and my dad definitely will. I don't know about grandparents--we've never lived close, so Mom will just call her mother (the only grandparent left) and send a card.

I wouldn't normally extend the expectation beyond that, though. I did give a goodie basket to a friend for Mother's Day this year, but only because she's an extremely close friend and it's her first child; it definitely wasn't expected, and I wouldn't make a habit of it.
24th-Jun-2012 11:26 pm (UTC)
American. I've only ever sent Mother/Fathers Day cards to parents and grandparents. If I were married w/ kids (well, married to the kid's father) I'd help them celebrate him, but if they were grown I wouldn't help them do diddly. If I were married and child-free to a man with kids on his own, I'd help those kids (if I liked them and they didn't have a mother figure type of thing), otherwise...diddly.

Acknowledging Mother's/Father's Day to anyone that isn't one's Mother/Father seems, to me, a recent, Facebook/LJ thing. "Happy ___ Day" in your status update. It's like saying "Have a nice day" to people.

2nd-Jul-2012 06:58 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I agree. American, and I've never felt the need to get a card/present for anyone other than my mother.

In fact, I didn't even do so for my grandmother.
25th-Jun-2012 01:12 am (UTC)
I'm American...
Uh, my mom is not my dad's mother. Why would he celebrate her? He calls his mother and sends his mother a card. vice versa.
I give my mother a card and a gift. As of recent I also send my grandmothers cards. We've never really done it - but I live further away now and for me its a nice way just to remind them that I'm thinking of them. However, for whatever reason I don't get my great-grandparents cards for mothers/fathers day.

We generally get my husband's mum & nan a both card and gift. (But they live together and jealousy takes over ;) )

Pretty much goes the same for fathers day. With the exception that my husband doesnt have any grandfathers :)
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