The Magic of Mother’s Day

May 6, 2016
The Magic of Mother's Day!

Mimosas, milk chocolate, magnolias, May. These are the things I associate with Mother’s Day.

Since I was old enough to utter the word “mama,” the second Sunday in May had been reserved to honour the matriarchs of the family. Our Montreal traditions included an all-afternoon brunch at the Queen Elizabeth hotel, bottomless boxes of Laura Secord chocolates, and vibrant bouquets to light up the kitchen after a whitewashed Canadian winter. The festivities followed a month of downpour—April showers, May flowers. But while living in constant downpour through the wet UK winter, the surprise of British Mother’s Day (or “Mothering Sunday”) falling in March did not feel quite as foreign as I thought it would.

Last year, at the end of March, I had arrived at my friend’s townhouse in Belfast. She asked me how I felt about helping her bake a carrot cake for her mother.

“Is it her birthday?” I asked eagerly, an avid baker myself.

“No, it’s Mother’s Day. How could you forget?” she asked, perplexed.

It turns out the date of this holiday is not universal, though some of the traditions are. I was curious to mark the differences and similarities on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Now that I have experienced both, with North American Mother’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to share my discoveries.

The similarities and differences between North American and UK Mother’s Days

At half-past noon, after cooling and topping the carrot cake with a thick layer of cream cheese icing (a comforting universal pairing), we hopped in the car to head over to Katherine’s mother’s house. Mother’s Day Brunch — Similarity.

Her mother greeted us at the door with a sparkling cocktail of orange juice and champagne. “Yum mimosas!” I exclaimed. A puzzled expression overtook the faces of both mother and daughter. “This is a Buck’s Fizz, my dear,” her mother replied, sympathetic to my cultural cluelessness. Mimosas were called Buck’s Fizzes in the United Kingdom. I was off to a good start – Difference.

As we sat in the living room and sipped on our Mim Buck’s Fizzes, Katherine’s older brother surfaced from the basement with a bundle of white daffodils and a powder pink envelope. His younger sister followed with a box of chocolates. Granted, Laura Secord—the iconic Canadian heroine of the War of 1812—was not plastered all over the box, but the purple Cadbury assortment was equally, if not more, delicious – Similarity.

After guzzling down the first cocktail for some liquid confidence, Katherine and I snuck into the kitchen to start on the warm spinach and sweet potato salad. “You’ve got to try a Tayto crisp butty. Prawn cocktail are the best.” Katherine then took out two thick pieces of Irish soda bread, smeared them with butter and dumped a snack size bag of crisps from a bright pink bag on top. Though skeptical of the turkey-less treat, I dug into her creation and began an instant love affair that would follow me back to Montreal in a variety pack. “You’ve got to try cheese and onion next,” her mother called from the living room. I could get used to this carbs on carbs on carbs thing — Difference.

The all-you-can-eat buffet we frequent each year on Mother’s Day in Canada leaves us popping at the seams. Thankfully, May is warm enough for sundresses, while the bloating of brunch in Belfast left me feeling even more uncomfortable. “Who would like some tea and digestives?” Hmmm… digestives sound nice. Perhaps some TUMS to ease the pain. That was when her mother ducked into the kitchen and reappeared with a giant platter of chocolate-covered biscuits. Turns out digestives are not quite the same in Northern Ireland — Difference.

Katherine passed the cookies along, advising me to save my appetite. Supposedly, Grandmum Lawrenson had been slaving away all day over Sunday Roast and we were to make our way over there the minute we finished our Earl Grey tea. Her grandmother was as sweet as a Cadbury button. She gave me a huge welcoming hug and I immediately forgot about how full I was. She reminded me of my grandmother back home, who I had not seen in months. Caring and compassionate families — Similarity.

Yes. It may have been March not May, the beverages may have had strange names, and the Lawrensons were certainly different to the Greenbergs, but the magic of Mother’s Day was immutable. Whether crunching down butties in Belfast or spreading shmear on bagels and lox in Montreal, it was soothing to find out that wherever we are in the world, at the end of the day, the love and appreciation we have for our mothers is unconditional.

About Jennifer Greenberg

A nomad at heart, Jennifer Greenberg carries her creative curiosities in her traveller’s backpack wherever she goes. So far they have taken her to Ireland, Scotland, England, Scandinavia, North America, across Europe and Israel. She believes that traveling takes place every day, whether 3000 miles away or in her own backyard.

One thought on “The Magic of Mother’s Day

  1. May 7, 2016

    A poem first published in an Italian Newspaper but thought you would be interested: it is in Italian and partially in the Calabrese Dialect written in honor of my mom who passed away in 1995. My mother was an immigrant as I we came to the USA , the “New World” in 1956 via Ocean LIner. It took my mother a while to get use to the “New World”, but she finally did accept it, and would say, Tutto Il Mondo e Paese, translated means “The world is a Village”..and this poem is in her memory: Loving Tribute to Mothers :
    This poem is in honor of my earthly mother Nina Prestera Ursino
    the poem is:

    Tutto il mondo e paese
    diceva la mia mamma
    Non mi dimentichero mai
    delle cose di cui parlava

    Da quando ero piccola
    sempre in dolce attesa
    frase belle lei mi diceva
    in dialetto “Calabrese”

    Con sorise e tennerezza
    Diceva che gli anziani
    sapevano di piu
    della gioventu di oggi
    che e preduta,sempre piu

    Mi dave dei consigli
    ma io non ho ascaltata
    percio mi son trovata
    con il cuore rotto e tanta disperata

    Ora lei e morta,
    ma non dentro il mio cuore
    Lei viva nella mia anima
    quando la mia menta la ritrova

    Con parole di giudizio
    e sapienza piu divina
    lei mi aiuta qui adesso
    come cerchava di fare prima

    Ascolto con le orrechie
    parole non audibili
    in fondo l’anima mi parla
    il mio cuore e piu sensibilie

    Adesso e citadina
    del paradiso promesso a tutti
    e le male di una volta
    eternamente sono distrutte

    Dove tutto e possibile
    lascia che i nostri defunti
    ci aiutano per farci capire
    cosa fare per essere salvati

    E, anche se sembra lontano
    il giorno arriva col vento
    quando di nuovo ci riincontriamo
    Come un lampo fulminante
    rivedremo i nostri cari defunti
    che erano una volta morti
    Eternamente Risvegiati.

    Rosalba Ursino Marzo 10, 1999
    Inspirational Thoughts by, Rosalba Di Montepaone

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