Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms and Auguries to Mammas in Italia on Festa della Mamma!
Happy MothersDay to everyone who has the full-time job of being a mother. I realize how fortunate I am to have a loving mother. She is 87!
I had written an article for La Gazetta Italiana last year for Mother’s Day, and it was published in the newspaper but not the online edition. Here is the text of the article. Enjoy.
Mother’s Day Celebrations in Italy and America
May is the month for Mother’s Day celebrations both in Italy and in America. Celebrated as Festa della Mamma in Italy, Mother’s Day is always celebrated on the second Sunday in May, the same date as in America.
Mother’s Day was not officially recognized as a holiday in the U.S. until 1914 although its origins began in 1907 here. The first official Mother’s Day celebration in Italy did not take place until 1957, and it was in the city of Assisi. It was here that a priest, Father Otello Migliosi, from the village of Tordibetto, promoted this special day.
Today in the United States Mother’s Day is one of the most commercialized holidays, especially for the card industry and florists across America, not to mention the candy companies. Restaurants in every city and particularly in “Little Italy” neighborhoods offer Mother’s Day special lunches and dinners, as families take their mothers out to eat. This seems to be one of the most popular ways to celebrate, giving mothers a break from meal preparation and getting the family together at the same time.
In Italy Mother’s Day is not so much a commercial holiday as it is a special day to spend with mamma. Usually dinner and a gift is part of the celebration, with a focus on the family spending time together. Antonella Baratta-Spina from the village of Colle d’Anchise in the Molise region explains that this is exactly how her family celebrates this holiday.
I asked some of my friends in Italy as well as some of the more popular bloggers living in Italy to share with me their perspectives on Mother’s Day celebrations there, and here is what I found. Sara Rosso, author of the very popular blog, www.msadventuresinitaly.com, shares that “Italy celebrates Festa della Mamma, Mother’s Day, much like they do in America, on the second Sunday in May. Children bring fresh flowers (often roses) and gifts to their mothers, and there’s an emphasis on writing poems as a way of showing appreciation. In schools they often write these little poesie (poems) dedicated to la mamma and bring them home. Families often go out to eat lunch or dinner to give mamma a rest from cooking.”
Debra Kolkka, author of the blog, http://bagnidilucca.wordpress.com, tells me that the “custom was adopted from other countries and that there is not really any Italian tradition for this day. People do the same as in other countries and buy flowers or take their mother out to dinner.” Today more Italians are opting for restaurants on holidays such as Mother’s Day.
Lucia Bari from Brindisi says that Italians in the Puglia region offer best wishes or “auguries” and give their mothers small gifts, emphasizing that Mother’s Day is not such a big holiday like it is here in America.
My long time Sicilian friend Teresa Savoca has been a primary school teacher, or “insegnante,” in Giardini-Naxos, Sicily for many years. She informs me that it has been a tradition for her to teach the children a poem dedicated to their mothers. They spend time learning it so they can recite the poem on Mother’s day as a special gift from the heart to their mothers.
Caroline Swail has lived in Bagni di Lucca in the region of Tuscany for many years and together with her husband Rod, own and operate a charming bed and breakfast, http://www.villarosalena.com. Caroline remembers her sons bringing her cards and gifts that they had made in primary school. She explains that today Festa della Mamma consists of a nice lunch at a restaurant and that a few of the local shops feature special gifts for sale.
Mothers in Italy are generally considered to be dominant figures regardless of whether they work outside the home or not. The Italian mother is basically in charge of all of facets of domestic life, and sometimes this may seem unfair and unbalanced to Americans. Italians recognize their mother as the one person who is credited with holding the family together. At the same time an Italian mother knows that she can count on her family in times of need. She is highly respected in the Italian culture.