The Costa Rica News (TCRN)- Motherhood holds a special place in the hearts of Costa Ricans. Like many countries, Costa Rica has a designated Mother’s Day to honor maternity and Virgin Mary.
While most countries celebrate it on the second Sunday in May, Costa Ricans have declared August 15th a national holiday and a time to honor the role of mothers who work inside and outside their homes. Banks, government offices, schools and most public institutions close, except for stores and restaurants. In Costa Rica both, Dia de la Madre or Dia de las madres, are acceptable names for the holiday.
Credit for the modern concept of Mother’s Day is generally given to Anna Jarvis who began a campaign in 1908 to have a nationally recognized Mother’s Day in the U.S. and whose efforts were ultimately rewarded in 1914. By the 1920s, the holiday had spread world-wide and became the celebration we know today. However, the origins of honoring mothers and their role date farther back than the 20th Century.
Both the ancient Greeks and Romans had festival days honoring motherhood. Festivals celebrating Rhea (Greek), mother of the Gods and her Roman counterpart, Cybele, were probably the earliest forms of a Mother’s Day holiday. In the 1600s, English Christians paid homage to Mary with a holiday known as Mothering Sunday. Held on the 4th Sunday of Lent, this was viewed as a day off from work. Special pastries, known as mothering cakes were enjoyed as well. (One does have to wonder, though, who was responsible for baking those cakes!!)
As a Catholic country, Costa Rica changed the date to one more closely aligned with the religious Assumption Day celebrated on August 15th. According to Roman Catholicism, this was the day that Virgin Mary’s physical body was taken to heaven at the end of her life.
Virgin Mary is a very important religious figure in Costa Rican culture, for it has been the country´s patron saint since 1824. It is known as Virgen de los Angeles, and more commonly referred to as La Negrita. This saint has her own holiday on August 2nd and constitutes a small representation of Virgin Mary. Since 1824, August 2nd became a holiday. Thus, having a mother’s day celebration on Virgin Mary´s Assumption Day is not surprising.
The “head of the house” is usually a matriarchal figure in traditional Costa Rican households, so many ticos celebrate Mothers’ Day in order to honor women with gifts and special meals. Some ex-pats also join this celebration. On the other hand, others prefer to honor their mothers by showing love and respect every single day of the year and not only on one particular occasion.
The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose, Costa Rica